Bridges agrees sale of VivaGym in Spain

Bridges has agreed to sell VivaGym Group, a leading Iberian operator of affordable gyms, to Providence Equity Partners, a private equity firm specializing in growth-oriented investments in media, communications, education, and technology. 

VivaGym operates 104 gyms with over 315,000 members across Spain and Portugal. As a customer-focused innovator, VivaGym is a leader in the Iberian fitness market through a service offering underpinned by high-quality facilities; fun and engaging group classes; long opening hours; and affordable and flexible membership options.

Bridges first invested in VivaGym in 2015 when its footprint spanned just 15 gyms in Spain. The firm had a deep understanding of the sector, having previously launched The Gym Group, a UK-based affordable gym operator that subsequently listed on the London Stock Exchange. This expertise enabled Bridges to build a best-in-class management team, streamline operations and processes, and expand VivaGym’s footprint through new openings and strategic bolt-on acquisitions – notably Fitness Hut, one of the largest operators of affordable gyms in Portugal, as well as Duet Fit and Happy Gym. 

Juan del Río Nieto, CEO of VivaGym, added: “Since Bridges’ investment in 2015, VivaGym has pursued an ambitious growth plan, expanding from 15 to 104 clubs. Thanks to its previous investments in this sector, Bridges’ experience and industry knowledge of best practice has helped us transform VivaGym into a leading operator within the Iberian market. Bridges was also a hugely important partner in helping us manage and bounce back from the challenges of the Covid period and we owe them much thanks for their support.

“Looking ahead, we are very excited to work closely with Providence as we double down on our efforts to cement VivaGym as an Iberian leader in fitness. We have the shared passion and vision to make health and fitness as accessible, affordable and fun as possible – giving us the confidence that Providence is the right partner as we enter this new chapter.”

James Hurrell, Partner at Bridges Fund Management, said: “It has been hugely satisfying to see VivaGym’s growth – from just 15 gyms when we invested to more than 100 today. During that period, it has broadened access to high-quality gym facilities, and supported better health outcomes for hundreds of thousands of people. We believe that VivaGym has built one of the best platforms in the industry. Under Juan’s inspirational leadership, we have no doubt it will go from strength to strength in the coming years, and continue to meet its ambitious goals.”

Providence has considerable experience partnering with quality businesses in the leisure and adjacent industries across Europe, as well as an extensive background investing in Spain. Its experienced investment team will assist VivaGym as it continues to execute its growth strategy in Spain and Portugal. VivaGym’s management team, who will continue leading the business post-closing, are re-investing alongside Providence, as is Ares Management Corporation, VivaGym’s primary lender.

“Europe’s fitness industry is one we have studied closely for ten years and we believe now is the right time to partner with a leader like VivaGym in this highly attractive market,” said Robert Sudo, Managing Director at Providence Equity Partners. “In our view, VivaGym is a classic Providence investment: a solid business model with loyal customers, engaged and talented employees, and an established brand. At the same time, we believe VivaGym has significant growth potential and we look forward to working closely with Juan and his team to continue capturing the attractive market opportunity. With nearly 20 years of experience investing in Spain, and prior experience partnering with leisure businesses, we believe Providence is well positioned to support VivaGym as it enters an exciting new phase of growth.”

The agreement is subject to customary and regulatory closing conditions, including approval by the Spanish and Portuguese antitrust authorities. Closing is expected before the end of Q2 2024.

Providence Equity Partners was advised by Roland Berger, PwC, CBRE, West Monroe, Uría Menendez and Allen & Overy. Bridges Fund Management was advised by lead advisor Canaccord Genuity, as well as KPMG, Deloitte, Pinsent Mason and Eversheds.