The Leisure Media Company Ltd | Fit Tech promotion
The Leisure Media Company Ltd | Fit Tech promotion
The Leisure Media Company Ltd | Fit Tech promotion
features

Stats: Future gazing

Deloitte has produced a report in partnership with EuropeActive, analysing the impact of COVID-19 on the European health and fitness market, as Karsten Hollasch reports

Published in Health Club Management 2020 issue 9

When the coronavirus hit the European health and fitness market in March and governments enforced the closure of gyms across Europe, there was no manual on how to handle the situation.

As it turned out, initial club closures lasted anywhere between eight and 18 weeks, depending on how severe the impact of the virus was in the country in question. Some regions suffered a second lockdown and some look likely to experience further disruption.

Although governments were quick to provide financial help, the financial damage for operators and other actors in the fitness industry is still massive. In fact, it’s still unclear how high the losses really are.

For this reason, Deloitte and EuropeActive launched a study to examine the business impact of the crisis on the sector, in both the short- and the longer-term.

The fieldwork took place in August and a total of 17 European key operators were interviewed, covering around 10 per cent of all members in the European health and fitness market.

Key findings
As of 31 March 2020, the surveyed operators experienced an average membership shortfall of around 3.5 per cent compared to their original budgets. By comparison, by 30 June 2020, these shortfalls reached their highest point, at 15.8 per cent, primarily through a combination of membership cancellations and the absence of new membership inflow during closures.

The average shortfalls compared to budget in respect of the number of clubs amounted to 2.5 per cent by 30 June 2020, as clubs reopened across Europe.

In the medium- and long-term, both average membership shortfalls and average club shortfalls are expected to decrease. As of December 2020 and December 2021, European operators said they expect average shortfalls in memberships to be 13.9 per cent and 9.9 per cent respectively. Looking at clubs, the average shortfalls compared to budget are expected to be 1.8 per cent by December 2020 and 0.6 per cent by December 2021.

Overall, the shortfall could be higher in the European fitness market, especially for single club operators, who could face greater financial difficulties than chain operators.

The pandemic-related closures in Q2 also impacted finances, primarily due to the absence of membership fees. European fitness operators experienced an average income shortfall of about 65 per cent compared to budget. Discrepancies in income shortfalls between operators in the study can be explained by different approaches to the handling of membership fees during the period of club closures.

While some operators continued to collect membership fees unless customer objections were received, there were also companies that stopped collecting membership fees altogether.

Operators were able to achieve cost savings of 43 per cent compared to budget in Q2, mainly due to paying less rent and fewer people and other reductions in operating costs.

Additional savings were realised when personnel costs were subsidised by local governments.

Income shortfalls vary considerably between regions. Operators with a UK focus expect the highest financial shortfalls when compared to the initial budget and the income shortfalls of UK-focused operators were especially high in Q2 2020 (-94 per cent).

This is in part attributable to UK operators’ heavy reliance on monthly cancellable contracts, in contrast to Germany and most of the other European markets, which mainly offer longer-term contracts.

Published H1 reports of listed European key operators also show the significant impact of COVID-19 on financial results. Due to an approximately 18-week lockdown in the UK, total revenues of UK operator The Gym Group decreased by around 50 per cent in H1 2020, compared to H1 2019. Similar results have been published by PureGym for its UK business (-49 per cent in H1 2020, compared to H1 2019). In comparison, Dutch operator Basic-Fit, which operates in various European countries, recorded an overall decrease in revenues of 24 per cent compared to H1 2019.

Measures taken
To counter the crisis, operators have undertaken a wide range of monetary and non-monetary measures. Among the monetary measures, short-time work, government grants and loan application were the most popular.

Other popular non-monetary measures introduced by operators include frequent scenario analyses – introduced by all operators surveyed – the creation of emergency plans and the introduction of early warning indicators.

The use of digital fitness offerings increased during the lockdown.

Survey results suggest that consumers’ interest in digital offerings is not a one-off, but rather that COVID-19 is serving as an accelerator for increasing demand for digital sports offerings (apps, videos, etc.).

By providing relevant content through digital channels and engaging with customers via their websites and apps, operators have been able to keep in touch with members during the crisis.

Basic-Fit, for example, actively increased member engagement through its already existing social media channels and mobile app, by offering additional services and contents.

The company-own mobile app was also temporarily made available to the general public.

According to Virtuagym’s COVID-19 impact study, the number of fitness app users more than trebled to reach its first peak in March, when COVID-19 started in Europe. However, the highest peak was reached in July, when clubs started reopening. This indicates that in-person club visits and use of digital offerings can coexist (and accelerate each other) rather than cannibalising each other.

Future outlook
As an overall result, major European club operators consider their existence only partially threatened, assuming no further forced club closures: None of the operators stated that their existence was or will be either severely or highly threatened in the future. However, single club operators, which represent the majority of fitness clubs in the European market, appear to be more threatened in their existence than larger operators, due to limited resources and refinancing possibilities.

The fact that fitness club operators are looking confidently into the future can be proven not only by the lower expected shortfalls, but also by further studies: more than 60 per cent of Spanish operators surveyed in the FNEID/Valgo COVID-19 impact report believe revenues will return to previously expected levels by the third quarter of 2021.

This could be supported by the fact that the behaviour of some consumers in the fitness market has barely changed. Eight-eight per cent of consumers in the ukactive/4Global COVID-19 impact report stated that after the reopening of public sector clubs in the UK they would visit the gym as often or even more often than before the pandemic.

Confidence in the future of the fitness market is reflected in the number of M&A and financing activities that have taken place in the last couple of months. For example, RSG Group expanded its investments by acquiring the US-operator Gold Gym for US$100 million, as well as 35 per cent of the shares of Gym80. Furthermore, other players such as PureGym, BASIC-FIT and The Gym Group were able to raise large sums of capital during this period.

Herman Rutgers, co-editor of the report noted: “It’s not possible at this stage to predict what the full impact of this crisis will ultimately be, due to the increasing number of cases and the uncertain future of policy decisions. However, the study shows the impact on membership and financial losses, and also that – assuming there are no further club closures – the industry can recover quickly and is still confident of achieving the long-term goals of 80 million members by the midpoint of the decade and 100 million by 2030.”

Get the report: www.HCMmag.com/Deloitte

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
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features

Stats: Future gazing

Deloitte has produced a report in partnership with EuropeActive, analysing the impact of COVID-19 on the European health and fitness market, as Karsten Hollasch reports

Published in Health Club Management 2020 issue 9

When the coronavirus hit the European health and fitness market in March and governments enforced the closure of gyms across Europe, there was no manual on how to handle the situation.

As it turned out, initial club closures lasted anywhere between eight and 18 weeks, depending on how severe the impact of the virus was in the country in question. Some regions suffered a second lockdown and some look likely to experience further disruption.

Although governments were quick to provide financial help, the financial damage for operators and other actors in the fitness industry is still massive. In fact, it’s still unclear how high the losses really are.

For this reason, Deloitte and EuropeActive launched a study to examine the business impact of the crisis on the sector, in both the short- and the longer-term.

The fieldwork took place in August and a total of 17 European key operators were interviewed, covering around 10 per cent of all members in the European health and fitness market.

Key findings
As of 31 March 2020, the surveyed operators experienced an average membership shortfall of around 3.5 per cent compared to their original budgets. By comparison, by 30 June 2020, these shortfalls reached their highest point, at 15.8 per cent, primarily through a combination of membership cancellations and the absence of new membership inflow during closures.

The average shortfalls compared to budget in respect of the number of clubs amounted to 2.5 per cent by 30 June 2020, as clubs reopened across Europe.

In the medium- and long-term, both average membership shortfalls and average club shortfalls are expected to decrease. As of December 2020 and December 2021, European operators said they expect average shortfalls in memberships to be 13.9 per cent and 9.9 per cent respectively. Looking at clubs, the average shortfalls compared to budget are expected to be 1.8 per cent by December 2020 and 0.6 per cent by December 2021.

Overall, the shortfall could be higher in the European fitness market, especially for single club operators, who could face greater financial difficulties than chain operators.

The pandemic-related closures in Q2 also impacted finances, primarily due to the absence of membership fees. European fitness operators experienced an average income shortfall of about 65 per cent compared to budget. Discrepancies in income shortfalls between operators in the study can be explained by different approaches to the handling of membership fees during the period of club closures.

While some operators continued to collect membership fees unless customer objections were received, there were also companies that stopped collecting membership fees altogether.

Operators were able to achieve cost savings of 43 per cent compared to budget in Q2, mainly due to paying less rent and fewer people and other reductions in operating costs.

Additional savings were realised when personnel costs were subsidised by local governments.

Income shortfalls vary considerably between regions. Operators with a UK focus expect the highest financial shortfalls when compared to the initial budget and the income shortfalls of UK-focused operators were especially high in Q2 2020 (-94 per cent).

This is in part attributable to UK operators’ heavy reliance on monthly cancellable contracts, in contrast to Germany and most of the other European markets, which mainly offer longer-term contracts.

Published H1 reports of listed European key operators also show the significant impact of COVID-19 on financial results. Due to an approximately 18-week lockdown in the UK, total revenues of UK operator The Gym Group decreased by around 50 per cent in H1 2020, compared to H1 2019. Similar results have been published by PureGym for its UK business (-49 per cent in H1 2020, compared to H1 2019). In comparison, Dutch operator Basic-Fit, which operates in various European countries, recorded an overall decrease in revenues of 24 per cent compared to H1 2019.

Measures taken
To counter the crisis, operators have undertaken a wide range of monetary and non-monetary measures. Among the monetary measures, short-time work, government grants and loan application were the most popular.

Other popular non-monetary measures introduced by operators include frequent scenario analyses – introduced by all operators surveyed – the creation of emergency plans and the introduction of early warning indicators.

The use of digital fitness offerings increased during the lockdown.

Survey results suggest that consumers’ interest in digital offerings is not a one-off, but rather that COVID-19 is serving as an accelerator for increasing demand for digital sports offerings (apps, videos, etc.).

By providing relevant content through digital channels and engaging with customers via their websites and apps, operators have been able to keep in touch with members during the crisis.

Basic-Fit, for example, actively increased member engagement through its already existing social media channels and mobile app, by offering additional services and contents.

The company-own mobile app was also temporarily made available to the general public.

According to Virtuagym’s COVID-19 impact study, the number of fitness app users more than trebled to reach its first peak in March, when COVID-19 started in Europe. However, the highest peak was reached in July, when clubs started reopening. This indicates that in-person club visits and use of digital offerings can coexist (and accelerate each other) rather than cannibalising each other.

Future outlook
As an overall result, major European club operators consider their existence only partially threatened, assuming no further forced club closures: None of the operators stated that their existence was or will be either severely or highly threatened in the future. However, single club operators, which represent the majority of fitness clubs in the European market, appear to be more threatened in their existence than larger operators, due to limited resources and refinancing possibilities.

The fact that fitness club operators are looking confidently into the future can be proven not only by the lower expected shortfalls, but also by further studies: more than 60 per cent of Spanish operators surveyed in the FNEID/Valgo COVID-19 impact report believe revenues will return to previously expected levels by the third quarter of 2021.

This could be supported by the fact that the behaviour of some consumers in the fitness market has barely changed. Eight-eight per cent of consumers in the ukactive/4Global COVID-19 impact report stated that after the reopening of public sector clubs in the UK they would visit the gym as often or even more often than before the pandemic.

Confidence in the future of the fitness market is reflected in the number of M&A and financing activities that have taken place in the last couple of months. For example, RSG Group expanded its investments by acquiring the US-operator Gold Gym for US$100 million, as well as 35 per cent of the shares of Gym80. Furthermore, other players such as PureGym, BASIC-FIT and The Gym Group were able to raise large sums of capital during this period.

Herman Rutgers, co-editor of the report noted: “It’s not possible at this stage to predict what the full impact of this crisis will ultimately be, due to the increasing number of cases and the uncertain future of policy decisions. However, the study shows the impact on membership and financial losses, and also that – assuming there are no further club closures – the industry can recover quickly and is still confident of achieving the long-term goals of 80 million members by the midpoint of the decade and 100 million by 2030.”

Get the report: www.HCMmag.com/Deloitte

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
Gallery
More features
Editor's letter

Into the fitaverse

Fitness is already among the top three markets in the metaverse, with new technology and partnerships driving real growth and consumer engagement that looks likely to spill over into health clubs, gyms and studios
Fit Tech people

Ali Jawad

Paralympic powerlifter and founder, Accessercise
Users can easily identify which facilities in the UK are accessible to the disabled community
Fit Tech people

Hannes Sjöblad

MD, DSruptive
We want to give our users an implantable tool that allows them to collect their health data at any time and in any setting
Fit Tech people

Jamie Buck

Co-founder, Active in Time
We created a solution called AiT Voice, which turns digital data into a spoken audio timetable that connects to phone systems
Profile

Fahad Alhagbani: reinventing fitness

Let’s live in the future to improve today
Opinion

Building on the blockchain

For small sports teams looking to compete with giants, blockchain can be a secret weapon explains Lars Rensing, CEO of Protokol
Innovation

Bold move

Our results showed a greater than 60 per cent reduction in falls for individuals who actively participated in Bold’s programme
App analysis

Check your form

Sency’s motion analysis technology is allowing users to check their technique as they exercise. Co-founder and CEO Gal Rotman explains how
Profile

New reality

Sam Cole, CEO of FitXR, talks to Fit Tech about taking digital workouts to the next level, with an immersive, virtual reality fitness club
Profile

Sohail Rashid

35 million people a week participate in strength training. We want Brawn to help this audience achieve their goals
Ageing

Reverse Ageing

Many apps help people track their health, but Humanity founders Peter Ward and Michael Geer have put the focus on ageing, to help users to see the direct repercussions of their habits. They talk to Steph Eaves
App analysis

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Workout Anytime created its app in partnership with Virtuagym. Workout Anytime’s Greg Maurer and Virtuagym’s Hugo Braam explain the process behind its creation
Research

Physical activity monitors boost activity levels

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have conducted a meta analysis of all relevant research and found that the body of evidence shows an impact
Editor's letter

Two-way coaching

Content providers have been hugely active in the fit tech market since the start of the pandemic. We expect the industry to move on from delivering these services on a ‘broadcast-only’ basis as two-way coaching becomes the new USP
Fit Tech People

Laurent Petit

Co-founder, Active Giving
The future of sports and fitness are dependent on the climate. Our goal is to positively influence the future of our planet by instilling a global vision of wellbeing and a sense of collective action
Fit Tech People

Adam Zeitsiff

CEO, Intelivideo
We don’t just create the technology and bail – we support our clients’ ongoing hybridisation efforts
Fit Tech People

Anantharaman Pattabiraman

CEO and co-founder, Auro
When you’re undertaking fitness activities, unless you’re on a stationary bike, in most cases it’s not safe or necessary to be tied to a screen, especially a small screen
Fit Tech People

Mike Hansen

Managing partner, Endorphinz
We noticed a big gap in the market – customers needed better insights but also recommendations on what to do, whether that be customer acquisition, content creation, marketing and more
More features