DW Sports is going into administration saying it's working to save its 73-strong gym portfolio. HCM
understands administrators will be appointed this afternoon.
Fitness First remains a separate company and its 43 clubs are unaffected.
DW Sports, which operates 75 sports retail stores across the UK, has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Martin Long, Group CEO, said 25 DW Sports retail sites have closed and the remainder will continue to trade in administration to sell off stock, with closing down sales starting today (3 August).
He said the retail division will eventually close completely.
The company says it's looking to protect as many gyms as possible, but that it's inevitable some of these will also close.
Of the 73 DW Sports gyms in the UK, 59 are currently open and trading in England and Northern Ireland.
The further 14 gyms in England, Scotland and Wales are not yet able to open, due to Government restrictions in Scotland and Wales and – it is assumed – due to being unviable in England.
"The decision to appoint administrators has not been taken lightly, but will give us the best chance to protect viable parts of the business, return them to profitability, and secure as many jobs as possible." said Long.
"Having exhausted all other available options for the business, we firmly believe this process can be a platform to restructure the business and preserve many of our gyms for our members, and also protect the maximum number of jobs possible for our team.
“Our commitment as part of the gym sector across the UK to support the health and the fitness of the nation has not changed and we remain committed to ensuring our members maintain their fitness goals with us where possible.”
The administration comes just over two years since the company revealed ambitious plans to become UK’s largest sports participation brand.
The plans were based on merging the gym and retail sides of the business and to "blur the boundaries" between the two by "bringing the dynamism of the gym into stores" and making sportswear shoppable in the gyms.
As part of the plans, in August 2019, DW Sports launched a "kit and collect" service,
aimed at increasing secondary revenue at its clubs by "turning its changing rooms into fitting rooms".