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Focus on city locations is behind the sale of Virgin Active clubs

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The sale of 16 Virgin Active sites in the UK is the final step of the company's strategy to focus its operations on metropolitan and commuter hubs in its key markets, the health and fitness operator has said.

On Tuesday morning (7 February, 2017), David Lloyd Leisure said it had exchanged contracts with Virgin Active for the sale of sites in Berkshire, Brighton, Clearview, Dorset, Glamorgan, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Lanarkshire, Lancashire, Lichfield, Norfolk, Northwood, Surrey, Thorpe Wood, Warwickshire and Wearside.

Once the deal is completed, which is expected to be in the second quarter of this year, Virgin Active will operate 45 clubs in the UK, 33 of which are in London.

The operator said it would continue to invest in its exiting sites.

More than £14m (US$17.3m; €16.2m) has been spent in the past year on upgrading and growing its high-end London Collection portfolio, including the opening of a club at Mansion House and the upgrade of three other sites. There are 12 clubs in its Collection portfolio.

Virgin Active plans to continue its upgrade programme in 2017, including a full refurbishment of its Chelsea club.

The operator has also been focusing on classes, with the launch of The Pack, a team-based tech-enabled group cycle programme; ballet-inspired Barre; and a range of yoga classes, including Calm by Candlelight.

Paul Woolf, Virgin Active chief executive, said: “This transaction delivers a compelling valuation and focuses our UK estate in metropolitan and commuter hubs, in line with our operations elsewhere in the world. We see considerable opportunities to continue our long-term growth record by investing in existing and new market-leading health clubs in all of our territories, including the UK.

“Since acquiring these clubs in 2011, we have reinvested back into the facilities and seen the membership grow. Both the members and the club teams will now transfer across to David Lloyd where we expect the clubs to continue to prosper. We’d like to thank our people for their contribution to the success of these clubs, and our members for their support.”

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The sale of 16 Virgin Active sites in the UK is the final step of the company's strategy to focus its operations on metropolitan and commuter hubs in its key markets, the health and fitness operator has said.
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