DW Sports, which previously operated 75 sports retail stores and 73 health clubs, went into administration earlier this month. At the time, the move to administration was accompanied by the announcement that 25 retail stores would close immediately and that the retail division would, eventually, be permanently closed.
The gyms have been acquired by Frasers Group, owned by Ashley – whose other assets include gym chain, Everlast, retail brand SportsDirect and Premier League football club Newcastle United.
Frasers said the acquisition complements the existing gym portfolio and that it will operate the sites under the Everlast brand. The deal is said to be “consistent with the group’s elevation strategy.”
“The acquisition, for an initial cash consideration of £37m, includes certain assets relating to DW’s gym and fitness business, including certain stock, but excluding the DW business names and IP,” said a spokesperson.
An additional consideration (up to a maximum of £6.9m) may be payable, contingent upon the number of leasehold interests eventually acquired, taking the potential total to £43.9m, if conditions are met.
“We look forward to elevating the gym and fitness assets acquired under the group’s existing iconic Everlast brand, and we are also pleased to have saved a number of jobs,” they said.
Around 1,700 jobs were put at risk when DW went into administration at the start of August.
Frasers reports that DW Sports was not thriving before the pandemic – in its last accounts – for the year ended 31 March 2019 – the company had gross assets of £195m, but made a loss of £20m.
DW’s Dave Whelan and Mike Ashley are long-time competitors and the move sees Ashley picking up valuable assets from his rival.
DW Sports Fitness was founded in March 2009 when Dave Whelan purchased 50 clubs and attached retail stores from JJB Sports for £83.4 million.
At the time all the sites were shared between a fitness club and retail, with most having gyms downstairs and retail upstairs. The portfolio grew to 140 sites at one stage, including standalone retail and standalone gyms, before scaling back to the 75 retail stores and 73 gyms.
Fitness First, previously a sister company to DW Sports, remains a separate company owned by Dave Whelan and its 43 clubs are unaffected by the administration and sale.