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INTERVIEW


STEVE PRICE “I


don’t want to put Mytime Active up on a pedestal, but I do believe we’re very different from other organisations in the


sector,” says Steve Price, founder and CEO of the leisure trust. “Our whole ethos and way of doing things sets us apart, and it’s something we’ve carefully nurtured over time.” The organisation – established in


2004 as Bromley Mytime but rebranded three years ago to refl ect its increasingly broad geographical remit – has, in Price’s view, several key areas in which it differentiates itself. “Our model is one of a genuine social enterprise,” he explains. “We’re community-based. We’re evidence-based. We have high levels of partnership working, because we believe the societal issues we’re trying to address are too big for one organisation alone to solve. We focus on empowering people to change their lives – those values lie at the very heart of what we do. And we consistently re-invest our profi ts in the right areas to ensure we deliver on our agenda.” That ongoing re-investment is a key


part of the model, says Price: “Local government was never in a position to do that – it was always a case of boom and bust. New facilities would be built, but further down the line funding wouldn’t be there to re-invest and keep venues up-to-scratch. With all the fi nancial pressures on local government, leisure wasn’t a priority and it became unsustainable – services were being disproportionately reduced each year. “Through Mytime Active, we’ve been


able to create a much more sustainable model, re-investing our profi ts – £16m to date – in continually improving and expanding our services. People get confused about the trust model, saying it’s not for profi t. That’s totally wrong: we may be non-profi t distributing, but we absolutely are about generating profi t. That profi t is the engine that allows us to create initiatives that can change people’s lives. “And that very much fi ts with our ethos, which is not just about providing


30 “Through the Mytime Golf division,


The founder and CEO of Mytime Active talks


to Kate Cracknell about opportunities in public health, community partnerships, and


re-investing profits to change lives


with its 19 courses, we’re also the UK’s largest operator of pay-and-play golf. In that division, our re-investment programme has allowed us not only to improve facilities at existing venues but also to acquire new ones. “Our aim is to reduce the barriers to


participation in golf, particularly among young people, so ours are not members’ clubs – we’re very community-focused. In line with that objective, we’ve run initiatives such as our golf club amnesty: we invited anyone with an old set of clubs that was gathering dust in their garage to donate them to us. Over 1,000 people handed in their clubs, which we then refurbished. These can now be hired for free by any young people wanting to come along and play golf. “But a major area of re-investment has


been, and continues to be, our Mytime Health division: we’ve put a strong focus on growing our health services portfolio. That includes our recent acquisition of MEND, the kids’ nutrition and physical activity programme that focuses on educating the whole family. “MEND complements our existing


Price: “We’ve taken logical next steps, not giant leaps in the dark”


services: it’s about opportunities, life chances, and empowering people to take control.”


Investment and expansion He continues: “In the Mytime Leisure division, our strategy of re-investment has meant improved facilities at our four main leisure centres, including new play centres, gyms, exercise studios, health consultation rooms, changing facilities, 10-pin bowling... We’ve invested £5m in the Pavilion alone. We wanted to realise the full benefits of the assets we had, already rather than expanding into new territories.


Read Health Club Management online at healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital


weight management services very well, giving even more choice to local authorities and CCGs, and has great synergy with our existing portfolio and company ethos. It also brings with it a scale that we didn’t have in our offering before: extensive research and development, an evidence base of over 55,000 adults and children MEND has helped around the world, 60 existing contracts across the UK, and research partnerships with the likes of Great Ormond Street Hospital and University College London Institute of Child Health. That sort of evidence base is invaluable in demonstrating value for money to health commissioners. “We’re also developing licences for


other organisations to operate MEND in the US, Canada and Australia, and will potentially extend this programme to other markets too. We saw the acquisition as an investment in the future of our health business.


June 2013 © Cybertrek 2013


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