DW Sports enters administration, placing 1,700 jobs at risk

Around 1,700 jobs are at risk after Wigan-based retailing and fitness group DW Sports plunged into administration today.

The firm is expected to appoint insolvency specialists.

It is understood sales have been hit by the coronavirus lockdown which forced its stores and gyms to shut.

The chain operates 73 gyms and 75 retail sites across the UK.

Last month it announced plans to close 25 of its stores.

The retail business will be wound down and its website has already been closed.

However, it is believed there are plans to protect as many jobs and gyms as possible through a restructuring process.

Chief executive Martin Long said: “As a consequence of COVID-19, we found ourselves in a position where we were mandated by government to close down both our retail store portfolio and our gym chain in its entirety for a protracted period, leaving us with a high fixed-cost base and zero income.

“Like many other retail businesses, the consequences of this extremely challenging operating market have created inevitable profitability issues for DW Sports.

“The decision to appoint administrators has not been taken lightly but will give us the best chance to protect viable parts of the business, return them to profitability, and secure as many jobs as possible.

“It is a difficult model for any business to manage through without long-term damage, and with the limited support which we have been able to gain.

“Having exhausted all other available options for the business, we firmly believe that this process can be a platform to restructure the business and preserve many of our gyms for our members, and also protect the maximum number of jobs possible for our team members.”

Sister company Fitness First will continue to operate as a separate company and is unaffected by the administration.

DW Sports Fitness was founded in March 2009 when former Wigan Athletic FC owner Dave Whelan purchased the 50 JJB Sports Fitness Clubs and the attached retail stores for £83.4m.

Mr Whelan founded JJB after a career in football that was ended by a broken leg.