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Sep, 10 2010

A fitting franchise

Expanding rapidly in the UK, energie Fitness Group has over 90 franchises in the last seven years.

What led to the inception of énergie Fitness Group?

énergie was founded in 2003 in a small house in North of London by a small team of experts from the leisure industry. Our team recognised the success of franchising in other sectors across the world and observed that no one had franchised health clubs in the UK as yet. I decided to take advantage of this niche market, that to date, has proven robust in a variety of economic climates and nations.

How many corporate and franchised clubs do you have?

We currently operate eight corporate fitness clubs venues and over 90 franchises in the UK, Ireland, Latvia and the Middle East. We have recently acquired Ireland's largest chain of fitness clubs, Jackie Skelly. These are in the early stages of being rebranded and will be relaunched under the énergie ethos. Our clubs currently fall under four core brands: énergie Fitness Clubs, énergie Fitness for Women, Shokkenergie and Fit4less, our low-cost clubs.

How has franchising contributed in the growth of énergie Fitness Group?

As with most franchise models, we don't own any of the franchised sites, but in terms of brand over the doors, we are third in the UK behind Fitness First and LA Fitness. Income for the group is £13 million, of which £3 million goes directly to head office accounts in Milton Keynes.

What is the size of your enterprise and its present growth rate?

As mentioned, we have just over 100 venues worldwide. We opened 36 clubs in 2009 and as part of our expansion in 2010, have successfully opened a stunning new £2 million club in Doha in the Middle East, with several more in the final stages of completion in the Middle East and Egypt. The Doha Airport club has been a phenomenal success with 708 members joining before the club even opened and over 1,100 members three months later.

What are your expectations from the Indian market? How many fitness centres do you plan to open in India?

The fitness industry is rapidly growing in India but no one is offering a package like énergie. The number of clubs we plan to open depends largely on finding the right investors who fit the énergie standards.

How different is the Indian market as compared with other international markets?

énergie was purposefully created to be a universal offering. The Indian market offers many cultural and language challenges but as we have shown in the Middle East, we work with local intelligence of our partners to understand and respect these differences to create a fitness club that best appeals to the local market.

What is the worldwide presence of énergie Fitness Group and which is its best performing international market till date?

We have énergie clubs in 11 countries but my ambition is to be a global player and for that, you need 500 gyms. In each country that we operate, we are well above our performance targets and many of our franchisees are looking to open multiple sites to build their own 'empire'.

What is the area of an energie Fitness Club?

Clubs can start from 5,000 sq.ft and go up to 25,000 sq.ft. The average is around 15,000 sq.ft.

Interviewed by Punita Sabharwal

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