Fitness First parent divests franchise division of Jetts Fitness via management buyout

Fitness First parent divests franchise division of Jetts Fitness via management buyout

Jetts Fitness Australia CEO Elaine Jobson has led the acquisition of the franchise division of the brand from parent company Fitness & Lifestyle Group (FLG) via a management buyout.

The transaction, which follows a strategic review by Fitness First and Goodlife parent FLG, encompasses 129 franchised clubs in Australia as well as international franchise businesses in the UK and the Netherlands.

Under the deal, FLG retains full ownership of the Jetts brand and operations in New Zealand, Vietnam and Thailand.

“We continue to invest significant resources in the growth of Jetts Fitness across the APAC markets of Thailand, Vietnam and New Zealand,” FLG CEO Greg Oliver said.

“The sale of the franchise business will allow Elaine’s team to move forward with its own independent expansion strategy.”

Jobson added that the chance to acquire the franchise business was a ‘fantastic opportunity’ for Jetts, which was founded in 2007 by husband and wife Brendon and Cristy Levenson.

“I’ve always seen our Jetts franchise model as unique within the FLG portfolio, so when the group presents us with the opportunity to purchase the business, we immediately saw it as a fantastic opportunity - a chance to focus on growing our brand through franchise as well as our own corporately owned clubs in our new generation design,” Jobson emphasised.

“This is an exciting new chapter for my team and I as we continue to deliver high-quality training facilities, all staffed by incredible teams who are committed to helping our members live a better life.

“For our high-performing support office, who deliver exceptional franchisee assistance to our network, it will be business as usual with minimal disruption from this MBO.”

Speaking to Business News Australia, Jobson said the deal would have little impact for existing gym members.

"Fundamentally, there won't be any change in day-to-day - the change will be the focus on really leaning back into franchising; that's been our strength," Jobson said.

"We've always been a very strong franchising brand, so we'll be doubling down on that and growing - especially internationally.

"We master franchise into the UK and the Netherlands, and we're keen to do more countries."

Jobson said that international expansion plans would focus on regions like South East Asia and India, as well as pushing further into Europe where the brand already exists.

"For us, it's going to be more about being very targeted with our international growth and making sure that we choose the right markets," she said.

It follows a return to form for Jetts, which like all gyms nationwide had to contend with COVID-19 gathering restrictions nationally until recently.

Jobson said the brand's focus on non-CBD locations meant it was able to recapture its suburban clientele, many of whom remain working from home.

"We've had an enormous return of our members. Restrictions lifted, and I think for our segments in particular - low-cost, 24-hour community gyms - we've been particularly strong," Jobson said.

"People really value having flexibility, and being in the suburbs in the community where a lot of people are working from home now it really helps - as opposed to going into the city where we didn't really base ourselves."

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