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interview Indeed, it was this acquisition – the


sudden infl ux of a large number of clubs – that prompted the introduction of the new Premium category. The branding of existing sites may also now be reshuffl ed as the portfolio continues to expand. Management will also be split to create separate teams responsible for each of the sub-brands.


brand swapping Although the low prices mean it’s easier to close a sale for a BasicFit membership than for a Premium club, Moos stresses that the member profile is similar across all HealthCity sites. So is there a risk – particularly as the chain continues to grow, with multiple sites in a number of cities – that the budget clubs will cannibalise members from the all- inclusive and premium clubs? And is this a risk to the business given that the higher-end clubs are, as Moos confirms, still the most profitable for the company? “We don’t really experience much


cannibalisation. Premium members get a lot more than they would at BasicFit, which really is just an equipment-based offering. Premium clubs include group exercise, swimming pools, climbing walls, tennis, squash, daycare and so


HealthCity is keen to develop more of a community feel to its clubs


on. If we open a BasicFit club near a HealthCity site, there will be a bit of movement between the two but it will go both ways – if people haven’t been to a gym before, they’re more likely to try a budget club fi rst and then maybe trade up if they enjoy it. “We also keep an eye on the market.


We’ve changed a budget club into an all-inclusive HealthCity club before now, and vice versa. They’re a similar size, so we can switch things around if the market asks for it. “This ability to swap club models


around has played a role in our success. Our clubs are all a similar size,


so we can switch models around if the market asks for it


If something isn’t working at one of our facilities, we have the option to change the model and turn it around into a profi table site. “And there are learnings you can apply


both ways. Our luxury clubs always had a lot of staff, compared to just one in the budget clubs, but we noticed that members still received a lot of attention in the basic clubs. We learnt that it’s not about the number of people, but more the kind of people you put in.”


expansion plans HealthCity currently operates in three markets: the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. Expansion plans going forward will continue to focus on these markets, with the overall aim of doubling the number of clubs over the next two years; Waterland’s seven-year investment period ends in 2012. However, as HealthCity is the only remaining company in that particular Waterland fund, Moos believes the investors could withdraw as early as this year, and he is keen to reach this goal before then. Meanwhile a fourth market – France


– is also being considered, due both to geographical proximity and the availability of French marketing collateral already used in the company’s Belgian clubs. Growth is likely to occur primarily


through acquisition, funded by the company, its shareholders and via bank loan. “We can only grow through new builds at a rate of one club a month,” says Moos. “We’ve done exactly that in recent years and I’m sure we can continue over the next couple of years – we have enough clubs in our pipeline. But to grow faster than that, we have to look at takeovers. “The mid-market is experiencing a lot


HealthCity’s luxury clubs provide the main income for the company 28 Read Health Club Management online at healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital


of problems at the moment; we get a lot of offers to buy mid-market clubs.”


february 2011 © cybertrek 2011


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