Fitness News Europe: “Fitness First takes Barry’s into Germany and Austria”

Press article | Fitness News Europe covers in issue Nr. 79 the licensing of Barry's Bootcamp by LifeFit Group.

Fitness First takes Barry’s into Germany and Austria

Fitness First Germany is preparing to take Barry’s Bootcamp into Germany and Austria, as part of a multi-brand fitness club strategy under the newly-formed LifeFitGroup.

The strategy started taking shape late last year when Fitness First Germany acquired Elbgym, a group of three gyms from Hamburg, focusing on functional and athletic performance training.

Oaktree Capital Management, the majority owner of Fitness First Germany, formed LifeFit to bring the Barry’s license for Germany and Austria together with Fitness First Germany and Elbgym.

But Christophe Collinet, chief operating officer at Fitness First Germany, makes it clear that another two or three concepts could be added to the group, one of them probably before the end of this year. Collinet said that a boutique market is emerging in Germany, and Barry’s has what it takes to drive it. “Barry’s has so many elements that make boutiques successful. A very strong brand, clear positioning and an energetic, unforgettable workout experience,”he said.

The first Barry’s Bootcamp in Germany should open in early 2020, and Collinet estimates that there could be three to five across Germany and Austria in the next three years. “The focus in Austria will be on the two biggest cities, in Germany seven to ten cities would be suitable for Barry’s,” he said.

The investment suggests that Oaktree is not in any particular hurry to divest Fitness First Germany, as it did nearly three years ago with the sale of its British clubs to the DW Group. In other markets, in Asia and Australia, Fitness First has become part of larger multi-brand fitness club groups, not unlike the platform under construction in

Germany and Austria. “With the LifeFit Group we have developed a fitness platform whose brands are leaders in their segment. This segmentation makes it possible to service customers better and support growth,” said Federico Alvarez-Demalde, senior vice president at Oaktree, in a statement.

Another reason to continue investing is the improved performance of the Fitness First gyms in the last two years, under the leadership of Martin Seibold. “Given this very positive development, Oaktree is currently not focusing on a potential sale of the group, but rather capitalising on further growth opportunities with the LifeFit Group which will eventually lead to a sale in a couple of years’ time,” said Collinet. He and Seibold are both managing directors of Barry’s Bootcamp GmbH.

Fitness First could add a couple of gyms in the next three years, but LifeFit’s development should focus on the other concepts. A fourth Elbgym is set to open in Hamburg in the autumn. There are only a few boutique studios in Germany so far, such as Ride and John’s Bootcamp in Berlin, which is part of the former McFit Group.

Barry’s Bootcamp, which offers strength and cardio interval training, with weights and treadmills, has slowly but steadily developed in Europe in the last years. After its launch in the U.K., Norway and Sweden, Barry’s was started in Milan by two investors who are preparing to open another studio in September in the same city. They have teamed up with Franck Hédin to take Barry’s to Paris in June, as previously reported.

Earlier this month Fitness First acquired a majority stake in Profession Fit, a supplier of fitness programs for corporate customers, to be integrated with MyFitnessCard and MyFitnessVideo. This business has not been bundled into LifeFit.

Source: Fitness News Europe – Issue 79