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interview
RICHARD
MILLMAN
The new CEO of Leisure Connection talks to Kate
Cracknell about innovation, driving the member experience,
and tapping into members’ needs and motivations
“I
’m just 70 days into the job” is Guinness (now Diageo) and Allied “It’s about getting the right blend
the caveat to several answers Domecq. So has he worked in health and between people who understand the
when I interview Richard fitness before? “No, I haven’t. But when industry inside-out and bringing in a new
Millman, the new CEO of you look at the Leisure Connection perspective from outside. I think we
Leisure Connection. That might be true, business, to a large extent it’s a people have that blend in our team here. I’m
but his answers suggest a finger already business, and a retail business in its amazed by the passion that our people
firmly on the pulse of his new job and the broader context, and I have a lot of have for the industry and the business
company of which he is now in charge. experience in both those areas”. Prior to and what we’re trying to achieve; it’s
Millman joins Leisure Connection joining Danoptra, Millman was MD at one of the most energising things I’ve
from parent company Danoptra, where BSG, which owned companies such as PC ever experienced.
he was group strategy director, also World, for which he was marketing “And there’s some great stuff going on.
working on some specifi c projects in the director for four years. He then went on Our fi tness membership sales are 5 per
gaming sector. “Then the opportunity to become MD of the group’s business- cent up on last year. We’re also seeing
came along to run Leisure Connection, to-business mobile phone company. a continuing decline in the number of
and for me to get back into being the So will that experience lead him to do people leaving us every month. Is it
CEO of an operating business, which things differently at Leisure Connection? improving at the rate that I’d want it
I grabbed with both hands,” Millman “Coming in with a fresh pair of eyes, with to be? No, of course not, but we’re
explains. “It’s a great business, with insight from other marketplaces, is always working hard to make that even better.
some really exciting things going on in of value. But there’s a balance to be And at the root of that, we’ve brought
a really exciting market, with lots of struck. One thing I won’t do is dismiss all in some things that are making a big
great people and opportunities. And I’m that’s gone before. If people tell you your difference to our members.
into health and fi tness myself, which is ideas aren’t going to work for a certain “Our offering gets better all the time.
always a good thing because you can be reason, you have to step back and listen. We’re continually investing in the estate,
passionate about the business.” Yes, there’s learning you can bring from upgrading our facilities and buildings,
other markets – different insights into doing everything we can to keep up with
a fresh perspective opportunities and challenges – but there trends in new equipment – and where we
Millman’s background is in marketing, also has to be the recognition that it can’t, refurbishing and upgrading existing
working for the likes of Coca-Cola, doesn’t work every time. equipment. Wherever we’ve invested
Continual innovation Harpers Strike, a
martial arts-focused workout for kids, is just
one of Leisure Connection’s new offerings
30 Read Health Club Management online june 2009 © cybertrek 2009
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