Bridges Ventures announces investment in low cost gym provider
Gym membership in the UK is currently more expensive than anywhere else in Europe, according to market research company Mintel. Bridges Ventures, a venture capital company with a social mission, has invested a first tranche of £1m in The Gym, a low cost, high-quality gym provider. The Gym will provide quality gym facilities at affordable prices, with membership costing £14.99 a month with no membership contract. Facilities will include 160 pieces of state-of-the-art gym equipment and The Gym will be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Similar models have been rolled out in the US and continental Europe with great success. Bridges Ventures invests in companies that are located in the most under invested areas of the UK or that can achieve strong social impacts in sectors such as healthcare, the environment and education. The Gym’s locations, in line with Bridges Ventures’ social criteria, will cover areas where large portions of the local community will be able to enjoy the benefits of low cost gym membership. The Gym’s first location is in Hounslow, London, in the Blenheim Centre, a £220m mixed use development comprising of retail, leisure, private and affordable key-worker housing and additional community facilities.The Hounslow Gym opens on 30 June 2008 and has already attracted over 5,000 members.
Anne-Marie Harris of Bridges Ventures commented: “We are extremely excited by this investment. About 12 per cent of the UK population are members of a gym but research indicates this figure could increase significantly if high membership fees were not so restrictive. The Gym offers a logical solution to the problem. With exciting plans for expanding the business in the near future, we are confident that the investment will offer a good return for investors as well as delivering on our social impact goals.” John Treharne, CEO of The Gym added: “The Gym will offer quality fitness facilities to a wider selection of the local community than can currently afford it. With 675,000 residents living within five miles of our first location, The Gym will be accessible to all. I am delighted with Bridges’ involvement and look forward to their management insight into our future developments”.
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Notes to editors: Bridges Ventures Bridges Ventures is a venture capital company with a social mission whose commercial expertise is used to achieve social or environmental aims as well as attractive returns for investors. Bridges Ventures key backers include Sir Ronald Cohen, co-founder and former chairman of Apax Partners, 3i and Tom Singh of New Look. Two funds have been raised to date. The first fund, CDV Fund I, totalled £40m while the second, CDV Fund II, totalled £75m, beating its original target of £50m by 50%, and was closed in 2007. Investors in the second fund include HSBC, Doughty Hanson, Co-operative Financial Services, Barclays Business Banking, Lloyds TSB, and Citigroup, individuals including Dr Mike Lynch of Autonomy Corporation, Harvey McGrath of Man Group and Lloyd Dorfman of Travelex, as well as pension funds and endowments including the Universities Superannuation Scheme, the West Midlands Pension Fund and All Souls College. Bridges Ventures funds deliver social returns both on a geographical and sector-specific basis, which are measured using the Bridges Ventures social IMPACT scorecard and reported to investors alongside their financial returns. All investments are socially screened at the outset and must meet one or both of the following two criteria: 1. Regeneration – businesses must be located in the most deprived 25% of the UK, as defined using the government’s index of multiple deprivation, and contribute to their local community in at least one of the following ways:
- Employment creation
- Substantial expenditure to suppliers
- Serving the area as a core market
2. Sustainable business – an ability to demonstrate strong social benefits in sectors such as healthcare, education, the environment and ethical business. Bridges Ventures was recently awarded the BVCA Real Deals Private Equity Award ‘Fund of the Year 2008’. For more information on Bridges Ventures please visit www.bridgesventures.com.
The Gym The Gym is a 24 hour, seven day a week exercise facility dedicated to providing access to health and fitness facilities at an affordable price. Approximately 40% of The Gym’s 5,000 joiners to date are first time gym users, compared to the norm of 10-15%. The club has been built with an innovative lighting scheme and all of the equipment’s electronic components, with the exception of the treadmills, are self-powered. The unique online joining process requires no paper forms or filing, adding further to the environmental credentials of The Gym. The Gym offers a large pool of personal trainers and high levels of security with 24 hour pin number access to the club. In contrast to the usual 80%+, only 45% of members plan to arrive by car, with 32% arriving by foot and the rest intending to cycle or use public transport. John Treharne, CEO of The Gym, has extensive health and fitness experience. He set up Dragons Health Clubs in 1991, floating the business in 1997 and sold the extensive mid market family club chain in 2000. He is a past Chairman of England Squash and played Squash for England. For more information please visit www.thegymgroup.com.
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