Leisure entrepreneur David Lloyd will today launch his latest business venture, a chain of adventure parks to excite children and adults alike.
The former British number one tennis star, arguably best known for setting up his gym and tennis club brand, revealed plans to build four £7m, 60,000 square foot, sites each year over the next five years.
"David Lloyd's Adventure Parks" will have a selection of indoor and outdoor activities, ranging from climbing walls to trampolines; mini-golf to a 50km/h highwire suspended 16 metres in the air.
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“The difference in what we are doing is, it’s a day out. It’s a three to four hour adventure,” Lloyd told City A.M..
The 69-year-old is no longer involved in his gym and leisure brand, having previously owned it on two separate occasions. The chain, which recently bought 16 Virgin Active outlets, is reported to be up for sale for £1.3bn.
Lloyd’s last involvement in his eponymous gym brand was in 2013 when the business was sold to current owners TDR Capital for £750m.
The adventure parks will be run in conjunction with property firm Holmes Investment. Lloyd will identify locations, negotiate with local authorities over their sale and planning permission before Holmes provides the financing to fund their purchase.
Thereafter Lloyd will operate the sites, paying rent to landlord Holmes.
He said the demographics are very similar to his gym and leisure centres and many of the skills he developed in building his previous business are transferable to his latest venture.
“I’ve activated all my contacts with councils which have pockets of brown land they can’t use for anything else," said Lloyd.
I’m totally convinced it’s going to work. But I need to get the right location. That’s my skill. The demographics and where you put things are something we’ve done for 32 years. So we’re pretty good at it.
Similar to theme parks, some of the activities will be restricted to older children and parents. Others will specifically be directed at younger children with an added educational element.
The parks will be open in the evenings during the week and all-day during the weekend and school holidays. During daylight hours in working weeks they will be available for private hire for corporate days out and will be offered to schools at discounted or free rates.
He said: “Where can you go for a teambuilding day with all those activities?”
Holmes Investment has purchased a German-listed shell company called Caroboo Gold Mines, renaming it Holmes Investment Properties plc. The firm plans to raise £6m through a private share placement and has already signed £42m development loan facility, money that will fund the first handful of sites Lloyd identifies.
Chief executive of Holmes Investment, Martin Helme said: "We believe that David Lloyd is the most successful sports venue entrepreneur in Europe, and he is now concentrating on building a unique, exciting business that people will flock to.
"Holmes Investment Properties, our property division, are experts in funding and development, so it makes sense for Lloyd to leave this part of the process to us.”