Viva Gym has formed an Iberian fitness group with 48 gyms and nearly 200,000 members through the acquisition of Fitness Hut in Portugal, with support from Bridges Fund Management.
The protagonists said that they intend to continue developing the Viva Gym brand in Spain as well as Fitness Hut in Portugal, which jointly generate sales of about €50 million.
The agreement includes funding to expand the group with at least 14 openings this year and a target of more than 90 locations across the group by the end of 2020.
The transaction could be regarded as a hybrid strategic and financial sale, allowing for the exit of the financial investors that held 50% in Fitness Hut. The Edge Group, which backed the Portuguese smart cost concept since its inception in 2011, and Oxy Capital, which provided funding for extra growth in 2014, are both fully exiting.
The three managers who held the remaining 50% of Fitness Hut have reinvested half of this stake in the larger entity. The trio includes Nick Coutts, Fitness Hut’s chief executive, and its two other founders, André Groen and JP Carvalho.
The deal comes amid a bout of consolidation in the Iberian market, which saw Holmes Place acquire Virgin Active's clubs in Spain and Portugal last October.
The Viva Group has already started leveraging best practice, in areas such as personal training and member acquisition. Coutts will remain in place with all team members in Portugal, while the group is to be led by Juan del Río Nieto, chief executive of Viva Gym.
“There is a clear opportunity for the two brands to improve their offering by sharing knowledge and best practice, and committed funding is in place to deliver an accelerated growth plan,” said James Hurrell, investment director at Bridges, in a statement.
Bridges has been the majority shareholder of Viva Gym since 2015. It previously supported the launch of The Gym Group and more recently invested in Impact Fitness, a fast-growing low-cost operator in North America.
Read the full story in FNE#47.
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