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Sports Direct targets £5m gym and retail complex in former nightclub

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Sports Direct is bidding to scale up its dual-use gym and retail concept – part of plans to create a 200-strong UK gym empire – with proposals for a £5m development in Dundee.

Sports Direct – which was founded by Newcastle United Football Club owner Mike Ashley in 1982 – hopes to capitalise on the synergy between its retail and gym divisions by offering the two prospects side-by-side under one roof. Drawing an already captive audience, the model is designed to drive both sales of activewear and footfall in the gym.

Having opened its first gym and retail concept in Aintree in mid-December, Sports Direct is due to launch its third such site in St Helens in the next couple of weeks, taking the total number of Sports Direct Fitness gyms to nearly 30. The latest Dundee proposition is one of four more new-build dual-use complexes – two in southern England, one in Wales and one in Scotland – currently believed to be going through planning.

The standalone retail and fitness concept sees the Sports Direct Fitness gym offering a CV section, large free weights area, a functional training space and two group exercise studios, with memberships starting from as little as £5 per month. The application to transform a derelict former nightclub space in Dundee’s Stack Leisure Park outlines plans for a ground floor retail store beneath a 30,000sq ft (2,787sq m) gym spread over two floors.

The plans were submitted to Dundee City Council, which will now review the proposal, by commercial property agency GVA on behalf of Sports Direct and site owner TJ Morris Limited. A statement supporting the application added: “The proposals represent an exciting opportunity to not only enhance the quality of shopping provision within Lochee but also deliver the first Sports Direct retail and gym outlet in Scotland.”

Sports Direct Fitness made waves when it burst onto the UK gym scene in June 2014, assuming control of a number of former LA fitness health clubs which were put up for sale under the chain’s company voluntary arrangements (CVA). Sports Direct Fitness has outlined plans to amass an empire totalling up to 200 clubs across the UK, leveraging the success of the Sports Direct retail empire.

To read an analysis of what the Sports Direct Fitness model means for the wider gym market – from the January 2015 edition of Health Club Management magazine – click here.

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Sports Direct is bidding to scale up its dual-use gym and retail concept – part of plans to create a 200-strong UK gym empire – with proposals for a £5m development in Dundee.
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