Page 38



Campling says Bannatyne is looking to acquire new sites by the end of 2021

Early sales have been very encouraging and while I know the trend will drop off slightly, I believe we’ll be profitable again, month by month, by the end of 2021. One of the things that’s been most difficult for all businesses throughout the pandemic has been the lack of certainty. Having a roadmap is massively important in terms of planning, as well as getting the confidence back in our members, staff and key business partners. I’m hopeful there could even be a ‘January’ this September, for example, once people are back from their UK staycations – perhaps even foreign holidays – and are thinking: ‘I’ve got to get back to the health club now’. Of course, there have been a lot of job losses throughout the country, and that’s going to take a few months to settle down. But if we keep working carefully and effectively – and as long as we can keep the pandemic under control – I don’t see why we shouldn’t return to where we were. We’re also back on the expansion trail, looking to acquire new sites by the end of this year. As an independently owned and funded business, it will be a considered, careful growth pattern, but there’s certainly opportunity as we come out of the pandemic. How long will the sector stay in crisis mode?

Speaking just for Bannatyne, I don’t think we ever felt we were in crisis mode. We’ve taken a very careful, structured approach to 38

Issue 4 2021 ©Cybertrek 2021

how we’ve managed ourselves through the pandemic, and I think we will stick to exactly the same management style as we come out of it. We’ll consider and take appropriate action in response to whatever the world throws at us. There’s a euphoria in the sector at the moment around re-opening, but that will wear off quite soon and then it will be back to the fact that the better-run businesses will do better. That’s always been the case and I don’t think it will ever change. I do think all businesses in our sector will need to look at making themselves more resilient, more able to withstand further stormy weather if it comes along. But equally, we’ve seen some great things over the past year – everything from Joe Wicks to workouts in the park. People have tried to keep fit, healthy and active and new people have come to the sector because they’ve had time on their hands to engage. We also have a sector that’s now better distributed to drive penetration – from budget operators that can encourage people in at a low start rate to premium operators offering a more extensive service. All of this makes me very optimistic for the future. If we can get as many facilities back open as we can, as quickly as we can, and stay in control of our own destinies, I’m very confident we’ll succeed again. l Editor’s note: This interview took place on Tuesday 13 April, the day after clubs in England were allowed to re-open for indoor workouts.