Barry’s Looks Beyond London With Launch Of New UK Studio

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LIVERPOOL, United Kingdom – Boutique fitness studio Barry’s is set to open a new site in the heart of Liverpool this summer, its ninth UK studio and first outside of London since 2018.

The Liverpool site will be the company’s first venture outside of the capital since opening in Manchester almost four years ago and could pave the way for further studios appearing in major cities around the UK. 

In an email to subscribers, the company simply wrote: “Barry’s Liverpool is coming.” Adding that the city could look forward to Barry’s iconic Red Room lights, the best instructors, the best (fuel) bar in Liverpool and the greatest retail. 

To date, Barry’s has over 80 locations across the globe, spanning 14 countries with eight UK studios, including seven in London and one in Manchester. Barry’s first UK studio, Barry’s Central, opened in 2013.

Few boutique fitness operators have made much headway beyond the capital, with BLOK a notable exception, having followed Barry’s lead by opening in Manchester’s Northern Quarter in mid 2019.

However, the pandemic has seen a mass exodus of young professionals away from London with several major companies, including Big Four firm Deloitte, embracing the flexibility of remote working.  

At the same time, changes in legislation since August 2020 have made it easier for leisure operators and gym groups to open in former retail sites on UK high streets and capitalise on high-footfall areas.

Seizing on this opportunity, boutique operator 1Rebel opened its first of several planned “local studios” in Hammersmith in mid 2021, with another set to follow in Ealing. 

Now Barry’s are jumping on this chance to engage with consumers expected to be spending more time near home in future.

“The pandemic got in the way”
Commenting on the new studio, Sandy Macaskill, co-owner of Barry’s UK, said, “We’d wanted to open a Barry’s in this fantastic city much sooner because Liverpool just seems like a perfect fit for the Red Room, but the pandemic got in the way.”

Previously, Macaskill has been outspoken on his frustration that outdated town planning laws were blocking fitness studios from opening on the nation’s high streets. 

“It’s as if the 2012 Olympic legacy didn’t even happen – councils are telling everyone to be more active but then they don’t want to see fitness studios on the high street,” he said in 2016. 

Looking for opportunities outside of the M25, Barry’s opened in Manchester at the end of 2018, signalling the London-centric appeal of boutique fitness was ready to expand beyond the capital. However, the outbreak of the pandemic in early 2020 slammed the brakes on new openings.

Recognising the challenge faced by boutique fitness operators, United Fitness Brands emerged at the start of 2021 with a bold ambition to strengthen and consolidate this divided market, pooling the collective resources of Boom Cycle, KOBOX and Barrecore. 

And in late 2021, the bosses of boutique fitness studios penned an open letter to the Prime Minister calling for more government support for the sector, which resulted in a £1 billion fund to help fitness businesses hit by Plan B restrictions. 

Read More: UK Government Announces Fund For Fitness Industry Following Calls For Support

However, with this new Barry’s launch, there are signs the industry is getting back on its feet. “We can’t wait to open this summer and give Liverpool a taste of the best workout in the world,” Macaskill added. 

The new studio will have deluxe changing facilities including complimentary towel service and luxury beauty and grooming products. A Barry’s Fuel Bar will offer a menu of nutritious, post-workout shakes by award-winning protein brand HERMOSA. 

The Liverpool site’s retail offering will also include a selection of Barry’s vests, t-shirts, sweatshirts and leggings, featuring iconic Barry’s slogans.

A statement from the company added that “Barry’s UK will be looking to add to its roster of best-in-class instructors by recruiting the next generation of trainers within the city”.

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