Money

Gym Group lost 216,000 members last year


Gym Group says it lost 216,000 members last year as Covid restrictions wiped out 45% of trading days

  • Revenues plummeted by almost half year-on-year to £80.5m from £153.5m
  • Ex-footballer Rio Ferdinand will join The Gym Group as a non-executive director
  • The Gym Group said current closures were costing them around £5m per month 

Membership numbers at The Gym Group fell by more than 200,000 last year after the company lost 45 per cent of its trading days to Covid-19 restrictions.

The budget fitness chain reported revenues plummeting by almost half year-on-year to £80.5million from £153.5million while it had 578,000 members at the end of 2020 compared to 794,000 the year before.

Gym Group subscriptions have been frozen since the government announced the third national lockdown on January 4, forcing them to close all their venues, as they were during the previous two lockdowns that began in March and November.

Gyms across the UK remain closed to their members as a result of the latest national and devolved government lockdowns that have forced non-essential outlets like gyms to close

Gyms across the UK remain closed to their members as a result of the latest national and devolved government lockdowns that have forced non-essential outlets like gyms to close

After the second lockdown ended, the business reopened all of its sites, yet it was forced to close 163 of them later in December due to Tier 4 measures, before the latest lockdown was enforced. 

The firm said the present closures are causing them to burn through around £5million each month, although this is £1million lower than during the November lockdown due to Government grants.

But it stated it has ‘significant liquidity’ available through its £100million banking facilities and is in discussions with its lenders to review its covenant tests on the loans.  

The publication of Gym Group’s results come in a week which saw leisure industry bosses call on the government to provide financial support to prevent operators going under.

Marg Mayne, who runs the leisure centre firm Mytime Active, told a parliamentary select committee that the pandemic had ‘been nothing short of catastrophic’ for her company, which she stated was desperately short of cash reserves. 

Gym Group is in a relatively stronger financial position than smaller fitness brands, though chief executive Richard Darwin admitted today that 2020 was a ‘challenging year for our business.’

Gym Group CEO Richard Darwin: 'At a time when health and fitness has never been more important to the nation, we are ready to emerge from the pandemic and take advantage of the many opportunities available'

Gym Group CEO Richard Darwin: ‘At a time when health and fitness has never been more important to the nation, we are ready to emerge from the pandemic and take advantage of the many opportunities available’

Still, he remarked that the group’s ‘cash management during the pandemic has ensured we ended 2020 with manageable levels of debt and significant liquidity.

‘At a time when health and fitness has never been more important to the nation, we are ready to emerge from the pandemic and take advantage of the many opportunities available.’

The business further announced that former professional footballer Rio Ferdinand will become a non-executive director of the Gym Group from next month.

In a two-decade-long career, the defender made 81 appearances for the England national side and played for five clubs including West Ham, Leeds United, and Manchester United, where he spent 12 years. He now works as a pundit for BT Sport.

Former footballer Rio Ferdinand will become a non-executive director at The Gym Group

Former footballer Rio Ferdinand will become a non-executive director at The Gym Group

Also appointed to the same role was Wais Shaifta, the chief executive of digital healthcare brand Push Doctor, which provides online GP consultations to patients.

This week also saw the government respond to a petition signed by over 177,000 people urging gyms to reopen to help improve people’s mental health.

They wrote: ‘No government would want to be in a position of needing to close gyms. They give enormous health benefits and are large employers.’ 

However, they added: ‘We could not though allow the healthcare system to be overwhelmed, so we were required to introduce the current national lockdown.’

Shares in the Gym Group were down only 0.2 per cent to 217.5p by the late morning. 

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