Belfast Telegraph

Gym Group weighing up approach for empty Toys R Us stores

By Holly Williams

No-frills fitness chain The Gym Group is looking to muscle in on some of the shops left vacant by recent retail collapses such as Toys R Us.

The chain has its sights set on the empty shops as it is planning further expansion in 2018, with up to 20 new gyms expected to be opened.

It follows a year of "significant success" in 2017, according to the group, which revealed profits surging by a third to £9.2m and adding 21 new gyms, including 18 acquired from Lifestyle Fitness.

Chief executive John Treharne said the group was set for another year of "substantial growth", with the failure of high street names such as Toys R Us and Maplin offering further potential for expansion.

Toys R Us has four stores in Northern Ireland and entered into administration at the beginning of March. After failing to find a buyer for the chain, the firm began shutting up their stores UK-wide.

Administrators Moorfields Advisory have already pulled down the shutters at stores at Crescent Link Retail Park, Londonderry and Mill Road at Newtownabbey.

Stores in Belfast's CastleCourt Shopping Centre and Lisburn's Sprucefield Park will also close within the next six weeks after closing-down sales.

The Gym Group now has 128 gyms across the UK and 664,000 members, having signed up 159,000 new members last year and another 57,000 in the first two months of 2018 alone.

Its revenues jumped 24.3% to £91.4m, helping it achieve its second year in a row of annual profits.

The group made its maiden full-year profit in 2016, having floated on the stock market the previous year.

"We have made considerable progress in 2017 and were the fastest growing low-cost fitness operator, substantially increasing our market share and rapidly expanding our estate," he said.

"We have had a strong start to 2018 and are excited about the future."

Belfast Telegraph

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