Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Thin Time for Fitness Clubs as the Punters Tighten Their Belts

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Thin Time for Fitness Clubs as the Punters Tighten Their Belts

Article excerpt

Byline: JIM ARMITAGE

FITNESS club chains suffered another tough January as consumers watched their pennies more than the pounds they piled on over Christmas.

January is the crucial month for new members, as New Year's resolutionists traditionally flock to their local club to sign up. But it proved to be extremely difficult to get the punters in this year.

Internal figures from Holmes Place, owned by private-equity firms Bridgepoint and Permira, reveal that membership sales in the three weeks to 22 January were 7% below budget despite a big marketing push that some analysts suggested cost as much as [pounds sterling]2 million.

Meanwhile, Fred Turok, chief executive of the LA Fitness chain, owned by MidOcean Partners, said: "January certainly was tough. It's a difficult market out there and we're not quite where we expected to be."

However, LA was still on target for its business plan, he said.

The Holmes Place figures showed some clubs, including Hendon, Crouch End and Mayfair, had not achieved a third of their targeted sales. …

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