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Fitness First UK tells HCM it’s in restructuring talks

Fitness First UK has confirmed to HCM that it’s in the process of restructuring, citing rising costs and working from home which has undermined some of its city centre clubs.

The company is attempting to renegotiate rents and considering a reduction in the number of clubs. Fitness First recently closed its London Bridge club, transferring members to nearby locations.

A spokesperson for Fitness First Clubs Ltd, told HCM: “While many of our clubs are performing well, with hybrid working continuing across the country there are fewer people using some of our city centre facilities and this has had a financial impact on the business.

“As a result, we’re working closely with our landlords, creditors and shareholders to secure the long-term future of our clubs. We are confident this plan is the best way to ensure a sustainable future for the company.

“Our clubs remain open as normal during this time and members will not be affected.”

Fitness First currently has around 43 clubs in its portfolio. It lost £2.48m in 2020 due to the pandemic, against a profit of £7.6m in 2019, but losses accelerated to £23m in 2021. The company is a month late filing its 2022 accounts.

The move on landlords has echoes of that undertaken by Virgin Active, which restructured in May 2021 when it sought and was granted legal approval to wipe out its rent arrears following the pandemic closures.

The bottom line in both cases is that landlords are ultimately being asked to support the business so it can continue trading and get back on track. The risk for Fitness First is that landlords may pass the sites to other more successful operators.

Dave Whelan has had a few challenging times as a health club operator. In early August 2020, his DW Sports went

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