The budget gym sector is emerging as one of the UK leisure sector’s post-covid winners. City centre gyms may still be relatively empty but regardless the Gym Group is averaging 1.4 visits per member per week since re-opening. Its young customer base, who may not have the budget or space for at-home equipment, is working out again and the company plans to open 40 new sites by the end of 2022.
Covid has strengthened the idea that health is wealth and The Gym Group is seeing the benefit of new members entering the sector for the first time.
However, The Gym Group’s membership base still lags 2019 levels, reaching 721,000 at the end of August 2021. The company will likely pin its hopes on the upcoming crucial period of customer acquisition in September and October, as students return from their summer break. As one of the cheapest operators on the market it is in a good position to drive membership growth beyond today’s figures.
For budget operators like The Gym Group, the threat of home training equipment or services can be overestimated as it is cost-prohibitive for the traditional low-cost membership base. However, digital services will grow in importance and could become an additional source of revenue as The Gym Group seeks to monetise the online offer.
The Gym Group is now focused on site expansion believing the worst of covid is behind us and a return to normality is within its grasp. Customers consider convenience and site quality as primary reasons for joining a gym. The Gym Group will want to grow the number and quality of sites as quickly as possible in this context.
Our experts say that post-covid, there are structural profit tailwinds as The Gym Group could benefit from better rental rates and more efficient marketing.