LONDON, United Kingdom — The DW Group has appointed Martin Long as its new CEO, as it continues to strengthen its presence in the UK’s fitness sector.
Long, who led the successful acquisition of Fitness First for the DW Group in September 2016, will help to drive the group’s growth in both the sports retail and fitness categories.
“I’m delighted to be leading the DW Group” said Long.
“I will be ably supported by Scott Best who will head up Fitness, and Matthew Sharpe who will continue to head up Retail, plus our newly expanded senior team. Combining DW Sport’s pedigree in retail and fitness with the experience and strength of the Fitness First brand signals exciting times ahead for the Group.”
As well as boasting a strong presence in sports retail, with over 90 sites across the UK, the DW Group is now the second largest operator of gyms in the UK. Currently operating 126 sites, including the 62 Fitness First outposts, the group had been expected to work closely with Fitness First’s Managing Director Martin Seibold to combine the two brands. However, Seibold has since left Fitness First, ending a decade-long stint at the company.
At the time of the acquisition, DW Sports said that it planned to retain the Fitness First brand with a view to build its offering and reputation through investment and support.
“We are delighted to announce our acquisition of Fitness First UK whose great reputation, enviable brand and positive culture will strengthen and broaden our offering in the South,” explained DW Group’s Owner Dave Whelan.
“Fitness First has traded well since the significant investment in its brand portfolio and DW Sports intends to continue that investment while ensuring the Fitness First brand remains,” he added.
Eventually, DW Group is expected to consider a stock market flotation, following in the footsteps of other fitness chains which have listed on the London stock market.
But for now, Long will use his extensive experience in both the fitness and retail sectors, including eight years spent as CEO of LA Fitness, to strengthen the business as it continues to grow its UK footprint.