PureGym emerges as a stronger business after a “brutal” year

PureGym, a leading European fitness chain, said it has emerged as a stronger business after a “brutal” year when Covid-19 lockdowns severely limited the business’s ability to trade.

PureGym cheered an “excellent” reaction since reopening its 240 gyms across England on April 12
PureGym cheered an “excellent” reaction since reopening its 240 gyms across England on April 12

The Leeds-based firm said gym closures resulted in 37 per cent fewer trading days, causing significant declines in revenue and profitability.

PureGym revealed “awful” losses for 2020 after sites were forced to close in the pandemic, but said tens of thousands of new members have joined since reopening across England.

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The group reported a £215m loss for the year to December 31, against losses of £39.5m in 2019, after revenues slumped 40 per cent.

PureGym lost 12 per cent of its members in 2020, down to 1.5 million members, which fell further to 1.4 million members by the end of March.

However, the group cheered an “excellent” reaction since reopening its 240 gyms across England on April 12, with new joiners at similar levels to those in the same week before the pandemic struck.

It has seen more than one million workouts completed in the first week since lockdown lifted for gyms.

Humphrey Cobbold, chief executive of The PureGym Group, said: “Whilst the financial trading performance was frankly awful, that was out of our hands.

“We are more than satisfied with the recent reopening in England which included 10 brand new sites. Member response and new joiners support our view that underlying demand for gyms is strong.”

The group held the number of sites across the UK and Europe largely steady at 492, down from 504 in 2019.

It has already reopened gyms in England and Switzerland as restrictions have begun lifting, with Scotland to follow on April 26 and Wales, Northern Ireland and Denmark expected to be open by mid-May.

PureGym said it had not been forced into a programme of redundancies or restructuring to survive the pandemic, with further support provided by The PureGym Trust, a hardship fund supported by the Partners of Leonard Green for those struggling financially as a result of the pandemic.

Mr Cobbold said: “The actions we took and support received from governments, equity investors and debt providers gives us significant liquidity to not only survive, but importantly now also resume our strategy.

“We are without doubt a stronger business for having weathered the storm.”

PureGym said that overall support from Governments in UK, Denmark and Switzerland totalled £48m in 2020.

The firm has accelerated its digital strategy with a significant investment made in the PureGym app to offer contactless access.

The group said that 56 per cent of its estate now open, including 240 English clubs, 10 of which are brand new openings.