DW Sports Scoops Up Fitness First UK For £70M

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LONDON, United Kingdom  DW Sports has acquired all 62 Fitness First clubs in the UK, in a deal estimated to be worth £70 million.

Adding to the group’s current portfolio of 78 DW fitness clubs, the acquisition will boost the operator’s presence throughout the south of England.

Owner and chief executive of DW Sports, Dave Whelan confirmed that the Fitness First brand will be retained, with DW Sports continuing to operate 48 of its sites. The remaining 14 will be sold to other operators including four to The Gym Group.

According to The Times, Whelan, the founder of JJB Sports, has also chosen to keep Fitness First’s UK management intact. Martin Seibold, managing director at Fitness First will work closely with Scott Best, his counterpart at DW Sports.

Formerly the largest fitness club operator in the world, with more than 550 clubs, over the last four years Fitness First has been forced to sell a number of its venues after failing to generate a profit.

In September, its US owners, Oaktree Capital Management and Marathon Asset Management, who acquired the chain in 2012, sold all 65 of their Australian clubs to Quadrant Private Equity.

Quadrant, which recently bought the Goodlife Health Clubs’ network and acquired HYPOXI, a targeted body-shaping method, is now the largest combined gym group in Australia, generating over $400 million in revenue.

For DW Sports, the acquisition of Fitness First will allow the fitness group to invest further in innovation, while it upgrades and maintains the existing Fitness First sites, Best told Health Club Management.

“At the same time, we plan to invest in new openings for the brands and the continued refurbishment of our DW portfolio,” he added.

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