Gym Group hails faster rebound in membership than expected

The Gym Group has said that member numbers have recovered quicker than expected after it reopened its sites across the UK last month.

Shares in the UK’s second largest gym brand lifted higher on Wednesday morning after it hailed “strong demand for the return to gyms”.

It revealed that its total membership numbers increased from 547,000 at the end of February to 729,000 by May 24.

Nevertheless, its membership levels remain below pre-pandemic levels, with the company reporting 794,000 members in December 2019.

Prime Minister visits gym in constituency
Prime Minister Boris Johnson taking a tour of a branch of the Gym Group in his South Ruislip constituency (Archie Brooksbank/The Gym Group/PA)

Chief executive Richard Darwin said the company expects a slowdown in new members over the summer months but that this will kickstart again later in the year and at the start of 2022.

The Gym Group said it has also seen an increase in the number of weekly visits by members since reopening, rising to 1.5 from 1.1 in the same period in 2019.

It said this highlighted confidence from customers over its safety processes.

The firm said it has opened four new gyms – in Chichester, York, Cambridge and Sydenham – since April 12 to take its estate to 187 sites.

Mr Darwin added that the company is currently in discussions with banks over the finances it will have available to fuel its expansion plans over the next two years.

He told the PA news agency: “We are really pleased with the four new locations and have exchanged contracts on another 10 too.

“The scale of our plans is still somewhat dependent on ongoing talks with our banks and we will update the market once those are completed.

“We think initial openings are going to focus on similar units to our typical gyms, although in the longer term we might see more of a mix to include smaller format gyms as well.”

Analysts at Numis said they now expect a “small profit” for the current financial year, raising their revenue projections by around £8 million.

Shares in the company were 4.6% higher at 271p in early trading.