Virgin Active muscles up with Esporta deal

Virgin Active is set to buy rival fitness chain Esporta in a deal which will see it almost double in size.

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The deal, subject to regulatory approval, will mean Virgin Active adding 55 Esporta gyms to its own 71-strong estate. It is expected to rebrand the acquisitions within two years.

The takeover means Virgin Active is approaching the size of UK market leader Fitness First. The other major chain is LA Fitness.

Chief executive Matthew Bucknall says: “The acquisition of Esporta follows our takeover of Holmes Place almost 5 years ago, which was a
transformational and highly successful deal that allowed Virgin Active to establish a strong footprint in London. The location of Esporta’s clubs is an excellent fit with this estate and significantly strengthens our business. The acquisition broadens our product offering and demonstrates our willingness and ability to lead consolidation in the market.”

The company is majority-owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and marketing is headed by sales and marketing director Steve Dick. It has just reported like-for-like growth in its European territories of 9% to £113m.

The chain has been running a campaign under the slogan “More pleasure. Less pain”.

It recently signed a deal to become sponsor of the London Triathalon for three years, beginning this July.

Esporta was bought out of administration in 2009 by Societe General

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