Virgin Active aims at global growth under new owner

Virgin Active is to receive a boost to growth plans under new majority shareholder CVC Capital.

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The equity house is to buy 51% of Virgin Active from Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, with the deal expected to complete towards the end of the year. Speculation that negotiations were underway between Virgin Active and CVC Capital surfaced in June.

Virgin Active chain recently bought rival Esporta and now has 254 clubs in the UK, Australia, South Africa and elsewhere.

The company believes there is potential for overseas growth and part of the deal sees Virgin Active take over four Virgin Group-owned fitness centres in Australia, giving it a foothold in the Asia-Pacific region.

Leading gym chain Fitness First is already established in the region.

Senior managing director at CVC Peter Hooper says: “We have been impressed with the consistent and significant growth that Virgin Active has delivered since its launch and we look forward to working with management and Virgin to support the future international development of the business.”

Chief executive of Virgin Active Matthew Bucknall says that the sale “brings in a new majority investor who will help accelerate the expansion {of the chain}.”

Read an in-depth analysis of the gym sector here

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