Virgin Active invests in UK and eyes further expansion abroad

Kasmira Jefford
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VIRGIN ACTIVE said yesterday it plans to invest £25m on revamping the 53 Esporta clubs it bought last year to bolster its presence in the UK, as the group unveiled a surge in full-year profits.

The fitness group, which runs 259 sites in the UK, Europe, Australia and South Africa said that underlying earnings rose nine per cent to £126.8m in the year to 31 December 2011.

Membership jumped 25 per cent to 1.21m customers with the help of its £77.6m acquisition of the Esporta estate, bringing its total number of clubs in the UK to 122.

The company, which is owned by Richard Branson’s Virgin group and CVC Capital, is also plotting its expansion in Asia to help offset a slowdown in Europe.

Last October, Virgin Active bought four clubs in Australia from Virgin Group and it said yesterday it will use these as a springboard for growth in Asia Pacific.

Chairman Richard Baker said the group secured a new deal with its lenders last month, providing “a strong financial platform” to continue its growth.