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Providence Equity Partners takes control of VivaGym and its Fitness Hut brand

VivaGym supercharged for expansion in Spain and Portugal with new owner
Providence Equity Partners replaces Bridges Fund Management as majority shareholder
Juan del Río Nieto will remain CEO
United vision to become a leading force in the region
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University of Brighton
£23,144 to £25,138pa
location: Brighton, East Sussex, United Kingdom
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US private equity fund, Providence Equity Partners, is acquiring a majority stake in VivaGym from Bridges Fund Management, which will exit as a shareholder. Financial terms have not been disclosed.

Headquartered in Malaga, VivaGym is a low-cost operator with 315,000 members and 104 gyms across Spain and Portugal, where it operates the Fitness Hut brand, which was originally founded by Nick Coutts.

The offering includes cardio, weights and instructor-led classes and it was the first Iberian gym to pivot to online during the pandemic. Its no-contract, low price membership has opened up fitness to a new demographic and more than a third of its joiners are new to gym membership.

Juan del Río Nieto, CEO of VivaGym, said Bridges helped the company grow from 15 clubs to a leading regional operator and now it looks forward to further expansion with its new owner: “Bridges’ experience and industry knowledge of best practice has helped us transform VivaGym into a leading operator within the Iberian market," he explained.

"Looking ahead, we're excited to work with Providence as we double down on our efforts to cement VivaGym as an Iberian leader in fitness. We have the shared passion and vision to make health and fitness as accessible, affordable and fun as possible – giving us the confidence that Providence is the right partner as we enter this new chapter.”

The UK-based Bridges Fund Management is a specialist private markets investor, which focuses on investing in opportunities that create lasting economic value, including promoting healthier lives. Previous investments have included énergie Fitness and The Gym Group. It first invested in VivaGym in 2015 and used its experience honed from The Gym Group to guide the expansion through new openings and the acquisitions of Fitness Hut, Duet Fit and Happy Gym.

Providence Equity Partners has considerable experience in leisure and an extensive background of investing in Spain and its experienced investment team will be assisting VivaGym to execute its growth strategy in Spain and Portugal. VivaGym's management team will continue to lead the business, as well as invest, alongside Providence and Ares Management Corporation.

“Europe’s fitness industry is one we have studied closely for 10 years and we believe now is the right time to partner with a leader such as VivaGym in this highly attractive market,” said Robert Sudo, managing director at Providence Equity Partners. “In our view, VivaGym is a classic Providence investment: a solid business model with loyal customers, engaged and talented employees and an established brand.

"We believe VivaGym has significant growth potential and we look forward to working closely with Juan and his team to continue capturing the attractive market opportunity. With nearly 20 years of experience investing in Spain, and prior experience partnering with leisure businesses, we believe Providence is well positioned to support VivaGym as it enters an exciting new phase of growth.”

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