I think I can still remember when Fitness First launched from a tired looking club in Poole, Dorset (south coast of England) in 1993. When most other operators were pedalling `premium` (expensive!), Fitness First launched with `affordable` (cheap!) and now look…12 years later the business has just been bought by BC Partners (a private equity group) for £835 million (€1.2 billion). OK, the business isn’t one club anyone, in fact, it’s more like 424 clubs, but what a remarkable result. I am sure I was one of the cynics who at the time felt that a cheap proposition (sorry affordable) was not the way to go, but with a million members and clubs in 15 countries, what do I know!!
However, spare a thought for poor old Cinven private equity that purchased the business in 2003, when it was still listed on the London Stock Exchange. They’ve only been able to double their money in just over two years. I hope no one gets into trouble for only making £433 million (€628 million)!