PureGym 'burning £4m a week' during lockdown, will continue to lobby for gyms to be classed as essential service
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PureGym 'burning £4m a week' during lockdown, will continue to lobby for gyms to be classed as essential service

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PureGym is burning £4m of cash a week through its UK business, due to the UK government's decision to shut gyms in England as part of "Lockout 2" measures.

Speaking on Sky News, PureGym CEO Humphrey Cobbold said he expects the figure to come down slightly, as easing measures are implemented.

"We're burning about £4m a week at the moment," Cobbold said.

"This will come down to about £2.5m to £3m a week with the mitigation activity and contributions from the government, such as the furlough scheme and a rates holiday – which, I have to say, we are very grateful for," he continued.

"We're also looking at what we are doing with our landlords. We're going to ask them to share some of the pain with us, which is part of the work which is underway currently.

"Since the lockdown was announced, we've been ensuring we close down our facilities safely, so they're as ready to reopen as possible for when we're allowed to – in December or thereafter."

In September, PureGym – which is now the second-largest fitness operator in Europe – secured a £100m cash injection from shareholders to help deal with the opportunities and threats posed by COVID-19. The move took the group's borrowings to around £480m.

Cobbold said the industry is fighting to convince the UK government to class gyms and leisure centres as essential services, a move which would allow them to remain open alongside other services such as doctor's surgeries, dentists and food suppliers.

"We've made the case repeatedly to ministers over the last few weeks, most recently by writing to the Prime Minister and other key ministers as soon as evidence of the lockdown emerged.

"So far, I'm afraid, we haven't been able to convince them, but that won't stop us from continuing to try."

Cobbold stressed that the motivation to make gyms an essential service is "not just a business one" – but concerns the state of public health.

"The case for gyms to become essential services is really being made by our members," said Cobbold, "We've been inundated by requests from them, pleading us to keep asking the government to allow us to stay open.

"Some of them are really heart-rendering. Ex-military guys who suffer from PTSD, for example, asking us to keep trying to keep the doors open, because the gym is such an important part of their process of rehabilitation and of mental health.

"So the case isn't just ours to make, it's the millions of people out there, who are regular users of gyms and facilities and I do think the government's decision on this is a poor one for the health and wellbeing of the nation."

• To read a full interview with Humphrey Cobbold in the latest issue (9/2020) of HCM, click here.

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PureGym is burning £4m of cash a week through its UK business, due to the UK government's decision to shut gyms in England as part of "Lockout 2" measures.
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