Fitness First seeks marketing director following restructure

Fitness First is on the hunt for a new sales and marketing director following the departure of Suzanne Ruzicka “for personal reasons”. The fitness centre chain is axing a number of senior positions as part of a restructure, but insists that Ruzicka’s departure is not part of this strategy and that she will be replaced.

The changes follow the appointment of Peter Boddy as managing director at the beginning of this month. Boddy is a former managing director of bowling chain MegaBowl and of the Big Steak Pub Company.

Ruzicka joined the company from Virgin Active, a gym chain that is 40 per cent owned by Virgin Group, where she was sales director.

Fitness First develops its advertising in house and only spent &£92,000 on advertising in the year to June (Nielsen Media Research). It is currently carrying out an on-pack promotion with PepsiCo’s Tropicana brand, which offers purchasers a free week-long trial at their local centre.

Fitness First has 400 clubs worldwide and 160 in the UK. It was taken private in 2003 by Cinven. Michael Metcalf was appointed as group chief executive, replacing founder Mike Balfour, in April.

Rival chain LA Fitness has just hired data specialist GB Group to track lapsed members and to prepare a direct marketing campaign targeting this group.

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