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Survival of the fittest?

The battle of the budget health and fitness sector

THOMAS ROSE is senior surveyor at Cushman and Wakefield


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BAM to deliver new Leeds Arena

Leeds City Council selects contractor to build multi-million pound venue

By Pete Hayman

BAM Construction has been chosen to build a major new £80m entertainment venue in the centre of Leeds, West Yorkshire. Bovis Lend Lease has been named as the

reserve contractor by Leeds City Council (LCC) for the Leeds Arena scheme, which will see a 13,500-capacity facility devel- oped on the site in Claypit Lane. 'Super theatre' proposals for the venue

here has been something of a revolution in the health and fitness sector over the last 24

months. The depressed health club market presented an opportunity for a continental concept, proven in the US and Germany, to expand into the UK. The low-cost budget gym model of

value for money, no frills, limited- service but high quality offer, has exploded across the country. The early evidence suggests things

look good. The Gym has secured eight sites in 18 months; Pure Gym has five sites and Fitspace has eight clubs. Current locations seem to be highly cash generative and membership levels continue to be extremely high with low attrition rates, helping further growth. Yet one of the questions hanging

over the sector is how sustainable the growth remains for clubs of this size in the UK with so much competition. The real issue arises in cities such as

Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham, where operators compete head-to-head. For example, The Gym and Pure Gym have opened in Manchester and are trading successfully. Would a third operator dare compete? The key for success will be to provide

a quality offer managed well and that is popular with consumers. Time will tell who will triumph but it is sure to be an interesting time for the low-cost model.


A Jamie Oliver eatery is scheduled to open

will ensure that the furthest seat will be no more than 68m (223ft) from the centre of the stage – compared with 90-95m (295-312ft) at most conventional arenas. SMG Europe, which has already been

appointed by LCC to operate Leeds Arena, is now expected to secure a naming rights agreement that will see an organisation sponsor the entertainment venue.

The proposed interior of Leeds' new arena

LCC leader Andrew Carter said: "BAM

Construction has significant experience in building world leading stadiums and throughout the tender process they have demonstrated huge commitment and enthusiasm for the project."

New eateries planned for Westfield London

Westfield, the £1.6bn shopping centre in London's White City, has signed deals with several new cafes and restaurants. Following the opening of the 14-screen,

3,000-seat Vue cinema in February, it has signed Jamie Oliver's Jamie's Italian, his third in London; Mandaloun, a Lebanese restaurant group; Royal China; Café Isola Bella, the centre's first kosher restaurant; Zaza, the Italian chain; and Shawa. Two existing tenants have also signed

new deals – Caffe Concerto and Searcy's Champagne Bar are both set to expand.

A master planning exercise for Glasgow's historic Kelvin Hall is set to be completed after Glasgow City Council (GCC) agreed to provide £85,000 funding The council's executive committee met

to discuss five different proposals for the future of the hall, which opened in 1927.

Read Leisure Opportunities online

Council reveals Kelvin Hall investment proposals

GCC has now narrowed the options to

just two, which include a £15.6m plan to upgrade the indoor athletics venue so it could be used as a boxing venue during the 2014 Commonwealth Games, and a £16.8m scheme to build a larger sports complex and museum store.

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