VIRGIN TO SHAKE UP FITNESS INDUSTRY

VIRGIN TO SHAKE UP FITNESS INDUSTRY

SIR Richard Branson has laid plans to pump his fitness venture across Asia, with Virgin Active set to grow from six locations to 20 in Australia alone.

The concept was launched in Australia in 2008, with health clubs recently introduced at Collins Street in Melbourne and Moore Park in Sydney.

More clubs are set to open in Sydney with a number of sites being assessed, as well as plans to target Singapore and Thailand.

Branson says he was pleased with the response in Australia, with Virgin Active's differentiated product mix snaring a slice of the fitness market.

"Our new and founding clubs are performing exceptionally well," Branson says.

"The generous size of our clubs, breadth and quality of the product offering makes us truly unique.

"We cater to a broad market, plus we have prospered continuously since launch, which makes landlords look at us with interest."

Payce Consolidated Limited secured Virgin Active as an anchor tenant at its East Village development, while Investa Office Trust owns the $462 million property at Collins Street.

"These are iconic new developments and our ability to attract a broad segment of the market to these locations makes us incredibly attractive as an anchor tenant," Branson says.

"The other thing about our business is that we respond quickly to the latest trends but with our own twist to ensure our product is fresh."

Along with more than 200 group exercise classes held weekly, some clubs offer facilities for children, swimming lessons and wellness initiatives.

Investment group Brait acquired an 80 per cent stake in Virgin Active Group in July, valuing the business at 1.3 billion pounds.

Branson says the brand is in a strong position to capitalise on rapid growth.

"Our latest club openings in Australia are setting a new Virgin Active global standard in first year success and our plan is to have up to 20 clubs in the next few years," he says.

"We are now confident we have the track record, a strong pipeline of potential sites and the right infrastructure in place to accelerate our growth."

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