Bridges makes European debut with investment in Viva Gym in Spain
- Viva is a chain of low-cost gyms with 16 sites across 11 Spanish cities
- It improves health outcomes by broadening access to gym facilities
- This is Bridges’ first investment in mainland Europe, and the eighth from Bridges’ Sustainable Growth Fund III
- It builds on the expertise the firm developed in this sector as co-founder of The Gym Group, which recently floated in London at a £250m valuation
- Bridges will work in partnership with Magenta Partners, which founded Viva in 2011
The Bridges Sustainable Growth Fund III, managed by specialist sustainable and impact investor Bridges Ventures (“Bridges”), announces its investment in Viva Gym (“Viva”), a low-cost gym concept with 60,000 members across 16 sites in Spain.
Bridges has taken a controlling interest in Viva. It will work in partnership with Magenta Partners (“Magenta”), the investment firm that founded the business in 2011, who will remain actively involved as a minority shareholder.
This acquisition represents Bridges’ first stand-alone European investment. However, it is in a sector that the firm knows very well, thanks to its previous experience with The Gym Group, a pioneer of the low-cost gym model in the UK. Having incubated the concept in-house, Bridges supported a highly successful roll-out of the business, which now operates 67 sites around the UK. Earlier this month, The Gym Group floated successfully on the London Stock Exchange at a £250m valuation.
Bridges now intends to accelerate Viva’s roll-out through additional site openings over the next five years, with a focus on the major Spanish cities.
Physical inactivity has been identified as one of our most significant health risks, contributing to an estimated 3.2 million deaths globally every year (according to the World Health Organisation). Regular exercise can help tackle this rising problem – but exercise facilities are often inaccessible or unaffordable for people on low incomes. A recent OECD report found that more than half the population of Spain was overweight, with obesity much more prevalent among those with less education.
Viva is helping to address this challenge by providing ultra-affordable, highly accessible gyms that make it easier for people on lower incomes to exercise, leading to healthier lifestyles and reduced risk of chronic disease. With its no-contract membership policy and low price point, it has been able to open up gym membership to a new demographic: a third of its new joiners since inception had not been members of a gym before. And its offering – which combines cardio equipment, weights and instructor-led classes – has allowed it to attract men and women in equal numbers.
The fragmented low-cost gym sector in Spain remains relatively small, accounting for just 5% of the overall gym market. But it is also the fastest-growing, with projected growth of 9% p.a. to 2020. By applying its extensive operational experience in the low-cost sector to this compelling opportunity, and by working closely with Magenta and Viva’s management team, Bridges believes there is clear potential to create demonstrable social impact as well as substantial shareholder value.
Bridges co-founder and managing director Philip Newborough is leading the investment on behalf of the firm, and will join the Viva Board as Chairman. He has over 25 years of private equity experience and oversees much of Bridges’ deal activity, including its investment in The Gym Group; he has also previously led successful exits from Simply Switch, The Office Group, and The Hoxton (among others). James Hurrell, an Investment Director at Bridges, will also join the Board.
Philip Newborough, Managing Director and Co-Founder of Bridges Ventures, said:
“We’re excited to make this investment in Viva – not just because it’s our first investment in mainland Europe, but also because this is a great ‘consumer champion’ business in a sector that we know extremely well. We have seen with The Gym Group that this kind of business can achieve significant commercial success whilst also having a demonstrable social impact. We believe Viva is very well placed to do the same by tapping into the growing low-cost market in Spain. We look forward to working with Magenta and the team to accelerate the business’s growth.”
Tom Matthews, Partner at Magenta Partners (who has led the business since inception), said:
“Viva has already demonstrated that its flexible, low-cost proposition can open up a whole new market of gym users, as well as taking market share from established operators. We think it has huge potential to build on its success to date by rolling out to new sites in the major Spanish cities, and we firmly believe that Bridges – given its background with The Gym Group – is the perfect partner to help us do that.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
About Bridges Ventures
Bridges Ventures LLP is a specialist fund manager focused exclusively on sustainable and impact investment, with offices in London and New York. It invests in high-impact SMEs, properties and social sector organisations that can generate superior returns for both investors and society as a whole, focusing on four key impact ‘themes’: health & wellbeing, education, sustainable living and under-served markets. It manages almost £600 million across its Sustainable Growth, Property and Social Sector funds.
About Magenta Partners (www.magentapartners.com)
Magenta Partners is a highly entrepreneurial team committed to investing capital in growth businesses. Representing its own and other investors’ money, it seeks to partner with successful and entrepreneurial managers who require capital to take their business to the next stage of its evolution. The team brings a strong track record, with over 20 years’ experience encompassing over 20 growth and leverage transactions across a wide range of sectors and environments.
Advisers to Bridges
Legal: Eversheds (Louise Finnie)
Financial, Commercial & Tax: Deloitte
Advisers to Viva Gym
Legal: Shoosmiths (Lynn Knight)
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