Sports and fitness halls: strengthening your project after the crisis


by Nicolas Mounir

“No bread, no profit.” Remember the expression. No pain, no result. Sports club managers tested this logo during these six months of lockdown. But at the same time, project leaders started knocking on brands’ doors with a (logical and reasonable) idea to get started.

Since June 9, gyms can finally reopen their doors. They have been closed since the end of October, and they have paid a heavy price for the health crisis. Prior to this global shock, in 2019, Deloitte estimated the number of members of these chambers in France at 5.96 million. “Third after Germany and the UK, the French health and fitness market shows sustainable growth that will continue, driven in particular by the appetite of European players”explained Philip Dardelet, director of sports and major events at Deloitte. The company forecast the turnover achieved by fitness in France at 2.5 billion euros. Then it all stopped. Recently, the professional organization Union Sport & Cycle estimated the sales loss at more than 2 billion euros. Since last March, there have been 50% subscribers in movie theaters and -80% in studios. The organization states that the invasion of new customers is almost zero during the summer. No reopening period. It’s simple, for 2020, the Sports Federation and the cycle counted six months of administrative closure of gyms and 1.3 billion loss in cumulative trading volume. Moreover, 61% of companies then planned to lay off employees within six months.

Read also: Go Sport presents its new concept

late market

Don’t throw any more, the cup is full. However, despite these negative numbers, the market is bound to improve. Because the penetration rate of the number of cinemas in France is still very low.

“In fact, our penetration rate is currently low (9%) and the Covid-19 crisis has not helped things. We have the development street ahead. Some cities did not have clubs, which made the supply insufficient compared to others,” Roman Le Nagarde, Director of Development at Fitness Park explains.

A note fully shared by Frédéric Valette, Managing Director of the On Air Group: “The French market is actually lagging behind neighboring countries like Germany or England and that is a good thing. Everything needs to be done! All the signs were green before the crisis with a huge increase in the number of gyms. Experts estimate that the next 10 years will be exceptional with more than 2 million new registration. So, excessive optimism or acceptable flexibility? Whatever the case, these low penetration rates are encouraging signs as well as potential opportunities for a project leader. As Sylvain Bartolomeo, Associate Director of Franchise Management points out, our compatriots will know how to get back to the gyms: “I have little doubt on this point. This health crisis has put the desire for social bonds and the desire to take time for itself at the center of consumer needs. In the short term, gestures of barrier, and fear of the virus, can slow demand, but restored confidence will accompany it. Definitely going back to theaters!” For the latter, the market is likely to develop in the coming years. But in the short term, it could bounce back strongly. In fact, the eating crisis better revealed the French’s need to exercise and keep to themselves.

Read also: Administrative closing: 5 tips for reopening with confidence

striped openings

Especially since during these various constraints, candidates wanted to explore the possibility of getting started. At least that’s what the different brands interviewed for this file revealed to us. “We have 135 ongoing projects under way and more than 80 new project signatures since 2020.”Explains Vincent Olivier, Director of Development at L’Orange Bleue. Same note within the KeepCool brand, which specifies that it received an average of two to three spam requests per week during the shutdown. During this period, the franchisor worked on developing the brand’s network, in particular with the opening of four new clubs. “We have received an average of forty orders per month since January, and the opening of rooms should speed up lead generation.”For his part, Romain Le Nagarde comments. So it seems that the shutdown has not frozen the projects. exactly the contrary ! Vaccination helped, and the candidates were pragmatic.

“While clubs have closed, entrepreneurs and investors have reached out to us extensively in 2021. Dozens of franchise contracts were signed in the first half of 2021. The reopening of gyms will certainly speed up orders.”And the Frederic Valette continues.

A common entrepreneurial desire among the candidates to open specialized studios. The period of confinement was very active. We’re opening twenty more studios in five months. We have daily meetings with potential clients to check if they are qualified for our business plan and our values”notes Romain Secchiaroli, director of Iron Body Fit in France.

Read also: Fitness Garden: “There is a real international demand”

Reassure project leaders

However, as for the restoration, we will have to reassure future project leaders. Besides the prestige of the banner, the support of the candidates will be essential. “You have to be vigilant about the toughness of the franchisees you are targeting. Brands, and this is quite normal, have been weakened by the crisis, especially in this sector”, explains Sylvain Bartolomeo. And a member of the French Federation of Experts, to continue: “Do I have a partner strong enough to support me in my entrepreneurial project? Do I have a privileged partner strong enough to weather other storms (social struggles or the re-emergence of the virus?).” A problem that brands understand. The latter highlights their DNA and ability to withstand crisis. This and other possibilities. If Fitness Park determines that its development is 50/50 between new candidates and people from the Fitness Park network (having already opened clubs), the franchisor remembers that it has not recorded any room closures since its inception. “Our position allows us to obtain financing even in a sector that has been severely affected for more than a year”, identifies Romain Le Nagard. see her. You have to rest assured. still and always. What could be better than revealing, as Fitness Park does, that some network franchisees have used this period to gain momentum by opening another club.

“Today we have investors who come from our own network because 53% of the partners run at least two clubs, but also many new investors in professional retraining, looking for a new life in their region of origin or in a new region, even in Spain where we have been founded since 2017. “And the Notes Vincent Olivier, Director of Development at L’Orange Bleue.

For Silvain Bartolomeo, candidates must focus more than ever on the quality of knowledge transfer, the financial solidity of the franchisor or even the state of mind of the network in getting out of the crisis. Hence the rationale for choosing a strong signal. In closed sectors such as gyms or restaurants, the crisis risks causing a rebalancing of supply and demand. Demand may be stable or slightly lower than it was before the crisis. We will then have a poor show with some players (sometimes franchisees but above all isolated independents) who will not be able to withstand after the crisis and after the end of the assistance”the Associate Director of Franchise Management appreciates.

Read also: Restaurant and Health Crisis: Getting Started Today, Crazy Bet?

Installed model

Another reassuring point of the filter is the fact that brands have enough confidence in their concept not to change it along the way. At On Air Fitness, for example, it is estimated that the model has enabled the brand to resist and even advance the number of members at clubs open to a priority audience. “The fact that our primary target is 18-35 years old reassures us in terms of attending our cinemas once they reopen, and this type of customer in particular is in a hurry to restore their consumer habits and is less concerned about the risks of the pandemic.”, thinks Frédéric Valette. Everyone sees noon on their doorstep to showcase a super flexible model. “No, our model does not change: studios of 80 square meters where the client and his personal trainer are for 20 minutes in a training session per week is a sustainable concept. The neutral point is easy to reach, and this model can be developed in all kinds of areas‘ recalls Samuel Gay, development director of the fit20 network. At Fitness Park, we discuss that in the current context, its layout of over 1,000 square meters allows for good distance between members. “The health protocols that we have already been working on for over a year allow us to provide the best framework for training in complete safety.”notes Romain Le Nagarde.

Read also: Crisis: Which candidate is being hunted today?

new trends

Attention, if the signs, of course, present their conceptual basis, they must inevitably pay attention to new trends. With the epidemic, various desires have emerged among subscribers that should not be underestimated. Established Fitness Park Home Park which allows live / live training at home with brand trainers. Innovation to win new subscribers but also to reassure the project leader regarding the brand’s ability to deliver concepts that are adapted to the times.

“So we innovate in all layers of the company, whether in the kinds of group lessons, digital communication media, face-to-face or remote training, but also in our products distributed by the central purchasing office,” Vincent Oliver notes.

Development Director L’Orange Bleue continues: “Our wellness model has also been enriched in terms of services with Pilates and yoga classes, and a wellness area with sedge, hammam and sauna very popular with partners and members.” For the Iron Body Fit brand, we’re highlighting the opening of major US franchises during the month of July. As we can see, the brands are flexing their muscles but the last word can go to Sylvain Bartolomeo for whom this sector is a job with a bright future: “After the health crisis, we will enter a world where social bonds and the need for physical activity never mattered. Consumers are already expressing their need for freedom and a break in isolation. If supply weakens but consumer demand is there, then there will necessarily be entrepreneurial opportunities.”

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