PureGym feels the burn after brutal year

Leading European gym operator PureGym Group has described 2020 as a “brutal year” in its results for the period ended 31 December as its CEO states it is “without doubt a stronger business for having weathered the storm”.

The Leeds-based business reported a drop in all key metrics over the year with revenue dropping by over over a third to £270m (2019: £447m) with it noting the severe impact of closures brought about by the Covid-19 crisis, which saw its estate closed on average across
its various geographies for 37% of the year.

As a result of the challenges the firm confirmed that had re-set its strategic priorities to focus on cash conservation and re-opening, while accelerating its digital strategy which included enabling contactless entrance and exit using its app and making available pre-recorded content.

It added that although the business has seen a net drop of 12 in its number gyms, there was no Covid-driven programme of redundancies or restructuring and that last week it reopened 240 gyms in England including 10 brand new ones. It has also reopened 40 sites in Switzerland and is preparing to reopen its estates in Scotland, Denmark, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Humphrey Cobbold, CEO of The PureGym Group, commented: “2020 was a very tough year as the world reacted to the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has adversely impacted lives and livelihoods. Lockdown restrictions prevented us from trading and had a severe impact on our financial performance. But we should be judged on how we managed the things within our control.

“I am in awe of how our teams in the UK, Denmark and Switzerland rallied to preserve the business, protect our colleagues and members and handled adversity with unbowed optimism, stoicism, professionalism and flexibility. We had to run a business with zero income for extended periods, a previously unthinkable scenario. We had to make major operational changes in the tightest of time frames and alter our proposition in weeks that would have taken years in normal times.”

The firm highlighted that despite the issues of 2020 its “loyal customer base” meant it had retained the majority of its membership with 1.4m people.

Cobbold added: “Whilst the financial trading performance was, frankly, awful that was out of our hands. Our cost control and cash management was exemplary and the actions we took and support received from governments, equity investors and debt providers gives us significant liquidity to not only survive, but importantly now also resume our strategy. We are without doubt a stronger business for having weathered the storm.”

Looking ahead the chief executive said the business emerges from this crisis with “real optimism and exciting plans for the future”. Highlighting that it expects to benefit from health and wellness moving further up the public agenda.