Thursday, March 5, 2009

Fitness Tycoon Rebrands To Beat The Crunch

“Fitness tycoon Stan Henry is hopeful of coming through the recession intact after slashing prices at his health clubs and moving away from the costly swimming pool market. The entrepreneur has operated the Springs Sanctuary Spa Health Club chain for the past 20 years and is now rebranding three of his five sites as Easy-Gym, in order to appeal to a wider market. The firm now hopes to grow its turnover by 10% year on year as well as add to its 200-strong workforce as it increases its portfolio of sites. His three Tyneside centres have now seen membership double to around 5,000 since October, with Mr Henry hopeful that this trend will continue enough to allow him to open additional sites throughout the North East. He said: ‘The leisure industry is on its knees at the moment and we had a situation where our members were leaving us in their droves. We had to refocus the business and have now seen most of these people return, bringing with them new customers. We couldn’t go on absorbing rocketing running costs without putting up membership fees. But we were reluctant to do that, particularly bearing in mind that many of our people were already beginning to feel the cold draught of the countrywide downturn.’ He said that he has been forced to close swimming pools at Kingston Park and Low Fell in order to cut costs and is planning to replace the facilities with boxing and martial arts classes. The three sites, in Kingston Park and Pandon Bank, both in Newcastle, and Low Fell in Gateshead, have also introduced a two-year contract which halves the cost of membership. Having previously only offered a three-month subscription, Mr Henry believes that the new pricing structure will help to retain his current members, who he said were dropping off dramatically before the changes. The chain’s two sites in South Shields and Hartlepool will remain under the Springs brand, with plans to turn them into Easy-Gyms if the changes continue to prove successful. The firm is investing £200,000 in the business, which will go towards extending its static cycling classes as well as the completion of a major refurbishment at its Italian restaurant Luciano’s, based at Kingston Park. Mr Henry, who headed a chain of 32 nightclubs during the 60s and 70s, said: ‘It is early days, but already we are being met with a very positive response, which is reflected in rising membership figures at all three Easy-Gym establishments.”

No comments: