Fitness First to invest £83m in expanding its footprint in Asia

Kasmira Jefford
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FITNESS FIRST is to inject more than $140m (£83m) into growing its presence in south east Asia, where rising incomes and government efforts to combat rising levels of obesity are driving more people to the gym.

The chain, which was taken over by its lender Oaktree Capital and Marathon Capital in a debt for equity swap in 2012, said yesterday that it plans to spend $100m over the next five years, with 50 clubs expected to open by 2018.

It will spend a further $40m refurbishing its existing 88 clubs and training staff. The investment comes after Fitness First said in January that it plans to spend £250m across the group over the next three years.

Chief executive Andy Cosslett said: “These bold plans demonstrate how committed Fitness First is to expanding our leadership position in the fast growing Asian fitness market.”

The company reported a 9.8 per cent rise in Asian revenues to $212m in the year to 31 October.

Operating profits increased by 15 per cent to $32m as it signed up 8,300 new gym-goers, taking its membership to 216,800.

Fitness First said research showed less than five per cent of Asia’s population are members of a health or fitness club, providing opportunities for growth.

It also believes that governments’ efforts to promote healthier lifestyles and the region’s rising middle class will help boost the number of people signing up to fitness chains in the coming years.