allowed to freeze their membership, we dropped to around 78 per cent of pre-COVID levels quite quickly. We started to grow again over the summer of 2020, although it was difficult to assess a consistent trend due to different lockdowns in different regions coming at different times. By September, however, and even with a reduced membership, gate swipes were getting back to being not far off normal for that time of year, and we started to see more of our members returning too. But with the subsequent lockdowns, we dropped again – to 75 per cent of previous member numbers by the second lockdown, and 65 per cent by the end of the third. Attrition rates vary from club to club, of course, with city centres faring worse than more rural, less commuter-based sites. At one of our London and one of our Birmingham clubs, for example, you’re talking nearly 50 per cent
The average lifetime value of Bannatyne members is three years
I’d need to feel the company is going to a good home and that I’m getting good value for it
attrition. In places like Broadstairs, where we have a long-established, slightly older member base, attrition has been as low as 20 per cent. So age has played a role in attrition?
More important than the age of the member has been the regularity of their visits, especially in the early days after each re-opening. We have a lot of members who usually come to the club four to six times a week, and these are the members who’ve stayed and who were straight back each time their club reopened. I could recognise most of the faces in my local club yesterday, because they’re the members you see every time you’re in. Some members have been with us ever since our first club opened in Ingleby Barwick 21 years ago. Our members generally are very engaged – pre-COVID, our lifetime membership average was running at around three years.
How did the lockdowns impact your team?
Issue 4 2021 ©Cybertrek 2021
Duncan Bannatyne says he would exit the business following a buyout
We have 2,500+ staff, so it’s been tough. We made regular staff welfare calls to retain a sense of community, and of course the government’s furlough scheme has been essential to job preservation, particularly for our part-timers and the 1,000 staff in our demand-driven spas.