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Gym Group sets sights on smaller gyms for smaller towns

Bosses believe there is strong growth potential in opening smaller sites in areas with fewer people.

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The Gym Group wants to open more sites in smaller towns (The Gym Group/PA)

The Gym Group wants to open more sites in smaller towns (The Gym Group/PA)

The Gym Group wants to open more sites in smaller towns (The Gym Group/PA)

The Gym Group is hoping to cash in on the traditional new year fitness boom, as bosses revealed that membership numbers jumped 9.7% in the past year.

The low-cost chain, which has 175 gyms across the country, said that, by December 31, membership had risen to 794,000, from 724,000 the year before, with revenues up 23.6% to £153.1 million.

This included average revenue per member per month – a key measure for the business – up 7.6% to £16.02 in December.

Bosses put this down to increased sign-up to the company’s Live It membership programme, which includes multi-site access and a bring-a-friend initiative.

There remains a long runway of potential sites in the UK and, with our small box rollout under way, we plan to accelerate the expansion of our gym estate in the coming yearRichard Darwin, The Gym Group

Chief executive Richard Darwin told the PA news agency that the company has benefited from weakness in the retail property market which has aided its expansion plans.

He said that around two-thirds of Gym Group openings last year were in retail parks after it had previously been “put off” such sites due to high rents.

The company said it is also on track to open between five and eight gyms in its new smaller format, having seen its first two small sites launch with trading in line with expectations.

Mr Darwin said: “We expanded our business by 20 sites in 2019, which included the first two of our new small box gym concept, which delivers low-cost fitness to smaller towns.

“There remains a long runway of potential sites in the UK and, with our small box rollout under way, we plan to accelerate the expansion of our gym estate in the coming year.

“We have built scale and a strong platform over the past few years and, with an encouraging start to January trading, we anticipate 2020 will be another year of significant progress.”

Mr Darwin announced the new small box concept last year, and opened two – in Newark, East Midlands, and Beverley, East Yorkshire.

The aim is to open more sites in towns that may not be economically viable for a full-sized 15,500 sq ft Gym Group outlet, but could work with smaller premises.

The company also said it has a pipeline of 15 to 20 standard gyms to be opened in 2020.

PA