Steady growth and deal frenzy in European club market

11 Apr 2018

The trend toward larger gyms with more members and lower prices continued to dominate the European fitness club market last year, amid a frenzy of mergers and acquisitions.

The European market generated sales of €26.6 billion in 2017, up by 3.8% in constant currencies. As previously reported, the number of members grew by 4.0% to nearly 60.0 million last year, while the number of gyms moved up by 3.2% to 59,055 units.

The figures were compiled by Europe Active and Deloitte in their European Health & Fitness Market Report 2018, which was released this morning at the packed European Health and Fitness Forum (EHFF).

Europe’s ten leading operators didn’t expand much faster than the European market in terms of sales, since they raised their turnover by 4.0% to €3.1 billion.

David Lloyd Leisure moved into the lead with sales equivalent to €483 million last year, ahead of the Migros Group with €388 million and Virgin Active with €356 million. That trio is most likely to change again this year, due to the divestment of Virgin Active’s gyms in Iberia to Holmes Place.

Predictably, the study found growing concentration in the market in terms of membership, as the thirty leading operators raised their membership by 9.5% to 14.1 million. This amounts to 23.5% of all memberships, compared with 22.5% in 2016.

When Rainer Schaller, chief executive of the McFit group, takes the stage at the EHFF this afternoon, he may rightly boast that the German-based budget club operator remained ahead of the pack with 1.73 million members, up by 6.8%.

But Basic-Fit achieved faster expansion last year, as its number of members soared by 25.6% to 1.52 million. Pure Gym came third with 923,000 members, up by 12.6%, and the British operator has since reported that the number surpassed 1 million.

Herman Rutgers, board member of Europe Active and co-author of the report, said that the European fitness club industry enjoyed another year of strong growth in terms of members and value. “This shows that the products and services of our sector remain highly attractive to consumers across Europe and makes us confident to reach the industry goal of 80 million members by 2025,” Rutgers said.

Read the full story in FNE#53.

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