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SoulCycle is pulling out of the Canadian market

SoulCycle is pulling out of the Canadian market as it closes 20 of its remaining 82 studios. The company had 100 locations at its peak. It will continue to trade in the US and UK
In a statement shared with HCM, CEO Evelyn Webster said the impact of COVID-19 was behind the changes, but it is thought that the company had also overexpanded in certain locations
Webster cited the potential opportunity to 'right-size' in certain markets. The restructure will affect 75 full-time employees of its 1,350 workforce
The business is owned by Related Companies which is also rumoured to be selling its Equinox Hotel in New York City, but will continue to operate it
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We are naturally re-evaluating our portfolio of studios to assess whether there is an opportunity to right-size in certain markets
– Evelyn Webster, CEO of SoulCycle
Credit: SoulCycle

It's been revealed that SoulCycle's recent decision to close around 20 of its 82 studios will see the brand pulling out of the Canadian market, where it had been expected to open additional locations following its launch in Toronto.

The retraction is thought to be partly due to overexpansion in certain markets.

According to a statement from CEO Evelyn Webster, shared with HCM, geographical shifts caused by the pandemic have also contributed to the decision to restructure.

“As riders continue to return to in-studio classes, there have been many shifts as a result of the pandemic,” she explained.

“Some of these have been based on geography and we're re-evaluating our portfolio to assess whether there is an opportunity to 'right-size' in certain markets."

The company is expected to close locations in San Jose, San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Newport Beach and Del Mar, California, as well as six in the New York City area and others in Washington, DC, Massachusetts, Illinois, Florida and Georgia.

Bloomberg reported that owner, Equinox Holdings, had US$650m revenue in 2020 with a loss of around US$350m due to forced closures from the pandemic.

Part of real estate giant Related Companies, Equinox Holdings also operates Blink Fitness, Pure Yoga, Equinox clubs and Equinox Hotels. It bought a majority stake in SoulCycle in 2011, which it increased to 97 per cent in 2015.

The boutique cycling brand was founded in New York by Elizabeth Cutler, Julie Rice and Ruth Zukerman in 2006 and transformed the traditional spin class. It expanded across the US and into Canada and the UK and an attempted IPO in 2015 saw the company valued at US$900 million when it attempted to raise US$100m, but it didn't ultimately proceed with the filing.

In 2019 Equinox faced a backlash when one of the company’s major investors, Stephen Ross, announced a fundraiser for the re-election of Donald Trump, prompting #BoycottEquinox and #BoycottSoulCycle to trend on social media and mass membership cancellations.

The controversy overshadowed the company’s launch of a new at-home, on-demand venture – initially called Variis, but renamed to Equinox+, and set to rival the likes of Peloton and Flywheel – which went largely unnoticed. Melanie Whelan, who was CEO of SoulCycle, released a statement distancing Equinox and SoulCycle from Ross, but resigned three months later. At that time, ahead of the pandemic, SoulCycle was operating 100 studios across the US, Canada and the UK.

After the closures, SoulCycle will continue to operate its remaining clubs in the US and the UK.

Up to 75 full-time employees of its 1,350 workforce are thought to be affected.

It's rumoured that Related Companies is also seeking a buyer for the Equinox Hotel at Hudson Yards in New York City, but will continue to operate it and keep the brand over the door after the sale.

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It's been revealed that SoulCycle's recent decision to close around 20 of its 82 studios will see the brand pulling out of the Canadian market, where it had been expected to open additional locations following its launch in Toronto.
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