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TREND
Andrée Deane, CEO
of the FIA, looks at the
findings of this year’s FIA
State of the Industry report
O
n Thursday 7 May 2009, the BBC News told us to fitness sites opened in the UK, and the forecast is for a
make a note of the date, because it was (probably) further 155 to open in 2009.
the beginning of the end of the recession. So what’s the reason for such a remarkable sector-wide
The reason for the optimism was the fact that performance? Having spoken to FIA members during my
Barclays and Lloyds TSB had fi nally turned the corner and travels up and down the UK, I’m not surprised by the fi gures.
made a profi t. Rejoice. But the really good news for us is Despite rocketing energy and utility costs, the implosion of
that the health and fi tness sector is offi cially at the vanguard the fi nancial sector and the subsequent impact on all sectors
of that. According to the annual industry survey, compiled of society, I witnessed quiet, almost nervous optimism among
by independent market analyst The Leisure Database operators. There seemed to me to be an unprecedented level
Company (TLDC), the sector grew by 3 per cent in the 12- of creativity and application among those I met, accompanied
month period ending 31 March 2009. by an unshakeable belief that ‘retention is king’.
Not only that but, in spite of the economic climate, revenue As for lead generation, we’re seeing everything from
was up to an all time high of £3.77bn. Like-for-like membership stunning shop window graphics to clever PR spins and
was also up 0.8 per cent over the 12-month period, leading innovative promotions – right up to knocking on the doors
to a population penetration rate of 12.1 per cent. This means of local retailers, using Change4Life to persuade them to play
that more than one in eight consumers are now members of their part in the national public health strategy by allowing the
a health club or leisure centre, and compares favourably with club to hold exhibition performances at peak shopping times,
the penetration rate for the previous two years: 11.8 per cent handing out promotional literature to shoppers and passers-by.
(2008) and 11.9 per cent (2007). This creativity has not been the exclusive domain of the
large national multiples, or the prerogative of the nimble
creative
buzz
single site operators, but witnessed across the board.
Given that the leisure sector has been so badly hit in the One single site owner, for example, created a Wellbeing
last few months, these are truly remarkable figures. Hotel Awareness day that took her club out of the “exercise
occupancy rates are down, around 39 pubs have been ghetto” (her words) and into the health and wellbeing
closing every week – and yet, in 2008, 114 new health and arena. A major private multiple, meanwhile, famed for
its commercial acumen, has invested
time, money and resources in a very
innovative CSR (Corporate Social
Responsibility) programme.
It’s this sort innovation and lateral
thinking that has led to an almost 1 per
cent increase in like-for-like membership
across the industry, with total
membership now standing in the region
of 7,335,569 members.
government
impact
No end of financial year review can
ignore the beneficial impact the
government’s public health strategy –
and in particular Change4Life – has had
on our sector. Nor can we
underestimate the influence it has had in
Encouraging signs: The number
of organisations now working
with PCTs and GPs on referral
programmes is a positive trend
62 Read Health Club Management online june 2009 © cybertrek 2009
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