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PureGym goes global and considers IPO after 'rapid recovery'

PureGym says it is looking to expand its operations into the Middle East and the US
IPO could also be on the cards, as company looks to raise capital to fund expansion and ease debt
The group returned to profit in May, after membership levels reached 94 per cent of pre-pandemic levels
The group also continued its expansion, opening 15 new gyms in the first half of 2021 – including 13 in the UK
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PureGym says it is looking to expand its operations beyond Europe, after experiencing a strong recovery in business performance since reopening its clubs in April 2021.

Reporting its first half results for 2021, the budget fitness operator said the six months to 30 June had been a "game of two halves" with Q1 characterised by losses running at more than £0.5m per day.

This was followed by a "powerful bounce back in performance" once business was restarted.

Membership levels have recovered rapidly and currently stand at 94 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

This allowed the group to return to profit in May.

PureGym said the recovery has been driven by pent up demand and a "clear, renewed focus on activity, health and wellbeing" – and that the delivery of good results has continued into June and July.

The group has also continued with its expansion plans, opening 15 new gyms in the first half of 2021 – including 13 in the UK.

According to Humphrey Cobbold, memberships in the newly opened gyms are growing faster, on average, than new gyms opened before the pandemic.

The Group now plans to open a further dozen sites in the second half 2021 across the UK.

It is also aiming to accelerate expansion in 2022 – and take the brand global.

The company currently runs 506 clubs in Europe, under the PureGym brand in the UK and Switzerland and the Fitness World brand in Denmark.

Cobbold said: "We believe this is a propitious time to expand particularly in the UK and Switzerland.

"Changing work and leisure patterns against the backdrop of fallout in the retail sector are presenting favourable opportunities for commercial property tenants like PureGym.

“While Europe remains our core-market, we see opportunities to provide affordable fitness further afield.

"We expect that before the end of the year the first four PureGym locations will open in the Middle East in Saudi Arabia.

"This marks the start of our strategic franchise partnership with the Al Hokair Group and later this year or early next three trial sites are expected to open in the USA."

There have also been suggestions that PureGym has retabled plans to go public and list on the London Stock Exchange, as it explores its options for raising capital and ease its debts.

PureGym's net debt currently stands at around £810m.

The company is owned by Leonard Green & Partners, a US-based private equity firm that acquired it in 2017 in a deal worth £600m.

PureGym initially planned an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in 2016, but abandoned the plans due to "weak investor enthusiasm for new listings" in the wake of the Brexit vote.

The company has appointed Morgan Stanley and Barclays as lead advisers for the possible IPO, with RBC, Jefferies and Berenberg lined up as bookrunners.

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PureGym says it is looking to expand its operations beyond Europe, after experiencing a strong recovery in business performance since reopening its clubs in April 2021.
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