Sports brand PureGym, the UK’s largest gym operator, said it is to acquire leading European gym and fitness operator Fitness World.

This transformational deal will give PureGym significant scale in Continental Europe and rapidly accelerate its international expansion, which includes plans for trial sites in the USA.

Growth plans

PureGym said it has opened over 70 sites since being acquired by funds controlled by Leonard Green & Partners (LGP) in 2017 and will be trading from 263 locations in the UK by the end of this year.

It has continued to pioneer new innovations such as digital fitness studios, online fitness training through its app and new formats such as PureGym Local which targets smaller communities such as Barnstable, Bridgewater and Saffron Walden.

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Further expansion in the UK is planned for 2020 and beyond. Backed by LGP, international expansion has also been a strategic focus in order to diversify, gain scale advantages and access to additional opportunities for growth.

Well matched

PureGym said that it and Fitness World are well matched as partners, sharing market leadership positions in their main markets (UK and Denmark), robust financial performance and a modern, technology enabled customer offer based around high quality, affordable gyms that can be accessed flexibly, usually on a 24/7 basis.

The combined group will be trading from over 500 sites and in that regard will be second only to Basic Fit in the European market.

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“This transaction brings together two well matched, successful market-leading businesses and the combination creates a powerful platform from which to accelerate growth and deliver on our purpose of getting even more people, more active, more often”, said Humphrey Cobbold, Chief Executive Officer of PureGym.

“The acquisition of Fitness World is a transformational deal for PureGym and will support our long-held ambition to become a leading international gym and fitness operator. Fitness World is a business we know well and have long admired.

“The team there have done an outstanding job in building unparalleled leadership in the highly attractive Danish market with exciting growth positions in Switzerland and Poland.

“My management team and I are genuinely excited to welcome Steen and all his colleagues in Denmark, Switzerland and Poland to our ‘fitness family’.

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“We firmly believe that there is a great future ahead for all of us.”

Steen Albrechtslund, CEO of Fitness World, said: “I am delighted to be partnering with PureGym, a company that has, in just 10 years, fundamentally changed fitness provision in the UK.

“Their decision to invest in Fitness World is testament to the business we have built, which is the overwhelming market leader in Denmark and a growing player in Switzerland and Poland.

“Like PureGym we are passionate about making fitness more affordable and accessible.

“We believe that the combined business will create an even more impactful business, enabling us to take our attractive proposition to more people across Europe.”

The transaction is expected to be completed in early 2020 subject to standard completion conditions.