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The Gym Group opens record number of new gyms as revenues inch back towards pre-COVID-19 levels

The Gym Group saw performance at its mature sites recover steadily during 2022
Like for like revenues for the year reached 90 per cent of the levels reported in 2019 – the last year before COVID-19
The group opened 28 new sites during 2022 – the most ever in a single year
As a result, membership within the estate reached 812,000 – a 14 per cent increase on the 2021
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It is now clear that it will take a longer time to return to pre COVID-19 levels as a result of both the changes to customers’ everyday lives and lifestyles and the macroeconomic headwinds that we are all facing
Credit: The Gym Group

The Gym Group saw an upswing in EBITDA, to £38m for 2022, well above the £5.7m it reported for 2021.

Membership also grew steadily during the year, with total membership within the estate reaching 812,000 – a 14 per cent increase on the 2021 figure of 718,000.

The increase in membership was driven partly by the low-cost chain's ambitious expansion drive, which saw it open 25 new organic sites during 2022 – the most ever in a single year.

In addition, the group acquired three sites from Fitness First in March 2022, bringing the total number of gyms in its portfolio to 229 (as of December 2022).

The company – which reviewed and increased its pricing in 2020 to bring it in line with the market – is seeing its push to improve spent per member paying off, with yield at mature sites now at 110 per cent when compared with 2019, even though the number of members at mature locations is still only at 81 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

This improvement in yields is partly thanks to the average price of a standard Do It membership increasing to £21.49 (up from £19.27 in 2021) and the success of its Live It premium product, whose penetration grew to 29.6 per cent of total membership in 2022 (up from 27.1 per cent in 2021).

Overall statutory losses after tax for the year improved from -£35.4m in 2021 to -£19.3 while the company increased its borrowing (non-property net debt) from £44.1m in 2021 to £76.1m in 2022, partly to fund expansion.

Executive chair, John Treharne, also said The Gym Group – which identifies as the 'First carbon neutral gym chain in the UK' – is accelerating its push towards cost- and carbon-saving by preparing to make a full submission to the Science Based Targets Initiative, to further reduce its energy bills and carbon emissions.

The company is also working towards a target of 50/50 gender balance by 2030 and 40 per cent female leaders by 2025. In 2022, it increased the percentage of female senior leaders by 6.3 per cent points 35.1 per cent (up from 28.8 per cent in 2021), including the promotion of Ann-Marie Murphy as COO in April

Despite the recovery in turnover, profitability, membership numbers and yield, the group said turbulence at the macroeconomic level means that there are still some challenges ahead – especially when it comes to higher costs for energy.

John Treharne, The Gym Group exec chair, said: “This time last year, we reflected on emerging from the pandemic and indicated that we hoped 2022 would see a return to a more normal trading environment.

"It's now clear that it will take a longer time to return to pre-COVID-19 levels as a result of both the changes to customers’ everyday lives and lifestyles and the macroeconomic headwinds we are all facing.

"Therefore, it is right to manage the business tightly in 2023 and to focus on providing low-cost, high-quality, 24/7 gyms to our members.

"Against that backdrop, I am proud of the progress The Gym Group has made through the year, successfully completing our biggest ever site opening programme, growing member numbers and yield, and delivering on a number of key projects," he said.

Treharne also thanked outgoing CEO, Richard Darwin, saying: "Richard was instrumental in delivering this programme and leaves the business in robust order. We thank him for his contribution over many years and wish him well."

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The Gym Group saw performance at its mature sites recover steadily during 2022, with like-for-like revenue for the year reaching 90 per cent of the levels reported in 2019 – the year before the pandemic.
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