Fitness First is valued at £1bn

A gym chain launched 17 years ago with a single club is eyeing a stock market listing worth more than £1bn.

Fitness First, which is owned by private equity firm BC Partners, is expected to float in Asia, where it has many of its 550 outlets, by early next year.

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The business has reduced its dependence on the UK over the past decade, with Asia and Australia now accounting for more than 50 per cent of its earnings.

It has around 550 clubs worldwide, including 160 clubs in the UK.

Fitness First was the first health and fitness club to float on the Alternative Investment Market in 1996. The move provided the funds to roll out a chain of fitness clubs across the UK.