NEWS
Fitness sector represented at Parliamentary Committee – calls for plan to deliver pandemic recovery
POSTED 12 Jan 2021 . BY Tom Walker
ukactive called for a plan which will help the sector 'play its role in society' Credit: Shutterstock.com/DenisProduction
During the three lockdowns, we have lost more than 700m individual visits to facilities
– Huw Edwards
The government needs to provide the fitness and physical activity sector with a plan which will not only provide immediate, essential measures to secure its future, but will also help it to recover and grow.

Appearing before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee today (12 January), industry leaders said the pandemic has had a "devastating effect" on the sector.

Those giving evidence to the committee during the meeting were ukactive CEO, Huw Edwards, PureGym MD, Rebecca Passmore, Mytime Active's CEO, Marg Mayne and Rich Emerson, CEO of the Climbing Academy Group.

All four outlined how lockdowns during the past nine months have led to concerns not just over individual businesses, but the future of the sector as a whole.

Offering his views on the current state of the industry, Huw Edwards said the rollout of vaccines offered "light at the end of the tunnel", but that the industry had been hit hard and urgently needs government support.

"The third lockdown is a new chapter in the pandemic and we fully respect the government's measures," Edwards said.

"But the reality is that in this crisis that we face has had a major impact on the facilities and the members we represent.

"If we get to 23 March with the sector still in lockdown, that will mark a year since the industry was first forced to close its doors.

"In that year, we would only have been operating for 121 days, losing more than 240 trading days – and more than 700m individual visits to facilities.

"We're now in a situation when a significant number of operators – from the smallest to the largest – are facing major financial problems. Many have major issues relating to cashflow and are on the cusp of survival over the next couple of months," he said, while explaining that the major operators and ukactive have been in dialogue with the government on a 'open book' basis, showing their accounts and the impact of the closures on their financial state.

Edwards called for targeted financial help for the sector and a "clear, three-stage plan" in addition to existing support.

"What we need to see from the government is a plan that has three phases – a plan for survival, plan for recovery and then plan for the development of the sector so it can play its role in society."

He said new schemes were needed to help refloat the sector, including an extension of the Cycle to Work Scheme to cover the purchase of gym memberships and home fitness equipment and that ukactive has done an economic impact study of this.

Edwards' call for extra help was mirrored by Passmore who outlined three measures she said would help the industry.

"Firstly, the sharing of the burden of rent," she said.

"Secondly, a continuation of the rates holiday – which should be proportionate to the loss of revenue – and thirdly, to review the VAT the industry pays."

Many operators face a rent cliff face at the end of March when the current rent moratorium ends and a year's worth of rent comes due. The sector is lobbying for a scheme to be put in place to offer support through this period.

When asked about how confident she was that PureGym – and the wider industry – would survive the next six- to 12-month period, Passmore said: "At PureGym, we've been able to access additional finance, so I'm confident that we will be able to get through this.

"But I fear the gym sector, as a whole, is going to suffer from something of an 'economic Long COVID'.

"Operators may be able to reopen, but the reality is that it will take time to build revenues back up again.

"We're not a high-margin sector, so we will need to get revenues back up to a really decent level, between 75 and 80 per cent, before we can start eating into the losses we've suffered.

"Ultimately, we will see operators going out of business.

"This will result in the public having less places where they can get exercise and improve their physical and mental wellbeing.

"Additionally, those operators who will be able to hang on and survive won't be able to maintain or improve their offer.

"I am, however, confident that the underlying demand (for gyms) remains strong and that members will return. After all, one of the most googled terms of 2020 was 'when will gyms reopen'.

"That is reflected in us seeing a really strong bounce back in memberships and – more importantly, in visits – after the first lockdown. Memberships were back to 80 per cent of their peak, year on year and visits were at 93 per cent.

"Having said that, without targeted financial support, the 'economic long COVID' will absolutely affect the sector and we will see permanent closures."

• To watch a recording of the entire DCMS Committee session, click here.

RELATED STORIES
UK fitness sector facing fight to keep group exercise open in tier 3 areas


To the relief of the sector, the UK government confirmed yesterday (23 November) that gyms, health clubs and leisure centres will be allowed to open under all three tiers of the new COVID-19 alert system when lockdown ends on 2 December.
FEATURE: The great debate: Are gyms essential?


Given their support for the NHS, should gyms and leisure centres be classified as essential services? And how do we get it reclassified? Experts discuss
Gyms won't automatically shut confirms UK government, in response to Parliamentary petition


The UK government has provided a lengthy response to a petition which demanded that gyms stay open in England, even if there's a new spike in COVID-19 cases.
UK leisure centres can bid for £100m of government support


The UK government has pledged to invest £100m in supporting public leisure centres this winter, as part of a £1bn additional support package for local councils.
 


CONTACT US

Leisure Media, Portmill House, Portmill Lane,
Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG5 1DJ Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2021

ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
LEISURE MEDIA HANDBOOKS
LEISURE MEDIA WEBSITES
LEISURE MEDIA PRODUCT SEARCH
PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS
FREE DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS
 
Leisure Management - Fitness sector represented at Parliamentary Committee – calls for plan to deliver pandemic recovery...
28 Jan 2021 Leisure Management: daily news and jobs
 
 
HOME
JOBS
NEWS
FEATURES
PRODUCTS
FREE DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTION
PRINT SUBSCRIPTION
ADVERTISE
CONTACT US
Sign up for FREE ezine
Latest news

12 Jan 2021

Fitness sector represented at Parliamentary Committee – calls for plan to deliver pandemic recovery
BY Tom Walker

ukactive called for a plan which will help the sector 'play its role in society'

ukactive called for a plan which will help the sector 'play its role in society'
photo: Shutterstock.com/DenisProduction

The government needs to provide the fitness and physical activity sector with a plan which will not only provide immediate, essential measures to secure its future, but will also help it to recover and grow.

Appearing before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee today (12 January), industry leaders said the pandemic has had a "devastating effect" on the sector.

Those giving evidence to the committee during the meeting were ukactive CEO, Huw Edwards, PureGym MD, Rebecca Passmore, Mytime Active's CEO, Marg Mayne and Rich Emerson, CEO of the Climbing Academy Group.

All four outlined how lockdowns during the past nine months have led to concerns not just over individual businesses, but the future of the sector as a whole.

Offering his views on the current state of the industry, Huw Edwards said the rollout of vaccines offered "light at the end of the tunnel", but that the industry had been hit hard and urgently needs government support.

"The third lockdown is a new chapter in the pandemic and we fully respect the government's measures," Edwards said.

"But the reality is that in this crisis that we face has had a major impact on the facilities and the members we represent.

"If we get to 23 March with the sector still in lockdown, that will mark a year since the industry was first forced to close its doors.

"In that year, we would only have been operating for 121 days, losing more than 240 trading days – and more than 700m individual visits to facilities.

"We're now in a situation when a significant number of operators – from the smallest to the largest – are facing major financial problems. Many have major issues relating to cashflow and are on the cusp of survival over the next couple of months," he said, while explaining that the major operators and ukactive have been in dialogue with the government on a 'open book' basis, showing their accounts and the impact of the closures on their financial state.

Edwards called for targeted financial help for the sector and a "clear, three-stage plan" in addition to existing support.

"What we need to see from the government is a plan that has three phases – a plan for survival, plan for recovery and then plan for the development of the sector so it can play its role in society."

He said new schemes were needed to help refloat the sector, including an extension of the Cycle to Work Scheme to cover the purchase of gym memberships and home fitness equipment and that ukactive has done an economic impact study of this.

Edwards' call for extra help was mirrored by Passmore who outlined three measures she said would help the industry.

"Firstly, the sharing of the burden of rent," she said.

"Secondly, a continuation of the rates holiday – which should be proportionate to the loss of revenue – and thirdly, to review the VAT the industry pays."

Many operators face a rent cliff face at the end of March when the current rent moratorium ends and a year's worth of rent comes due. The sector is lobbying for a scheme to be put in place to offer support through this period.

When asked about how confident she was that PureGym – and the wider industry – would survive the next six- to 12-month period, Passmore said: "At PureGym, we've been able to access additional finance, so I'm confident that we will be able to get through this.

"But I fear the gym sector, as a whole, is going to suffer from something of an 'economic Long COVID'.

"Operators may be able to reopen, but the reality is that it will take time to build revenues back up again.

"We're not a high-margin sector, so we will need to get revenues back up to a really decent level, between 75 and 80 per cent, before we can start eating into the losses we've suffered.

"Ultimately, we will see operators going out of business.

"This will result in the public having less places where they can get exercise and improve their physical and mental wellbeing.

"Additionally, those operators who will be able to hang on and survive won't be able to maintain or improve their offer.

"I am, however, confident that the underlying demand (for gyms) remains strong and that members will return. After all, one of the most googled terms of 2020 was 'when will gyms reopen'.

"That is reflected in us seeing a really strong bounce back in memberships and – more importantly, in visits – after the first lockdown. Memberships were back to 80 per cent of their peak, year on year and visits were at 93 per cent.

"Having said that, without targeted financial support, the 'economic long COVID' will absolutely affect the sector and we will see permanent closures."

• To watch a recording of the entire DCMS Committee session, click here.




Connect with
Leisure Management
Magazine:
View issue contents
Sign up:
Instant Alerts/zines

Print edition
 

News headlines
Everyone Active partners with Public Health England to tackle lockdown inactivity
Everyone Active partners with Public Health England to tackle lockdown inactivity   28 Jan 2021

Everyone Active is offering a month’s free trial of its digital Everyone On Demand service to every member of the general public. The operator has .... more>>
Greater financial support and regulatory measures needed for physical activity sector
Greater financial support and regulatory measures needed for physical activity sector   28 Jan 2021

The physical activity sector is in need of bespoke and substantial financial support in order for it to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, according to .... more>>
GWS report details top wellness trend predictions for 2021
GWS report details top wellness trend predictions for 2021   26 Jan 2021

The Global Wellness Summit (GWS) has unveiled its latest trends report containing its top nine wellness trends for 2021. Predictions range from a .... more>>
Greg Payne behind upcoming digital holistic wellness platform, Kaylo
Greg Payne behind upcoming digital holistic wellness platform, Kaylo   27 Jan 2021

Industry figure, Greg Payne, has revealed details about the upcoming launch of Kaylo – a new online wellness concept. Founded by wellness visionary .... more>>
Children and disadvantaged groups at the heart of Sport England's 10-year strategy
Children and disadvantaged groups at the heart of Sport England's 10-year strategy   26 Jan 2021

Sport England has vowed to tackle inequality and create a nation of "more equal, inclusive and connected communities" through physical activity. .... more>>
Donald Trump returns to London – in balloon form
Donald Trump returns to London – in balloon form   26 Jan 2021

The Donald Trump baby blimp, which was flown over London's Parliament Square in July 2018 during the then-US president's visit to the UK, has found a .... more>>
Company profile


TVS Group

Our company was established in April 2009 and this year marks our 10 year anniversary.

View full profile>>

Catalogue gallery


Featured Supplier

SPATEX Virtual – coming soon to a screen near you!

SPATEX Virtual – coming soon to a screen near you!

With live exhibitions cancelled for the immediate future, SPATEX is making its global virtual debut from 2 - 4 February. More>>




in this issue

• Gyms open, but group exercise fight looms
• ukactive reveals details of new Active Standard
• PureGym 'burning £4m a week' during lockdown



Latest jobs

Jobs Search



Maintenance Manager
Salary: c. £30,000 per year
Location: Plymouth, UK
Company: Everyone Active
Assistant Development Officer (Active Lifestyles)
Salary: Band D (scp 5-6 £19,321 - £19,698)
Location: Sefton, Liverpool, UK
Company: Sefton Council
Climbing manager
Salary: Competitive salary plus benefits
Location: Plymouth, UK
Company: Everyone Active
Diary dates
Powered by leisurediary.com

28 Jan 2021

Medical Wellness Congress Webinar

Online,



Leisure Management magazine 2018 issue 1
Leisure Management
2018 issue 1

View issue contents
View on turning pages
Download PDF
  Tourism: High flyers
How bmi and Projekt Spielberg are growing British tourism to Graz More>>
  Last word: The benefits of retreats
Research is showing retreats could have a positive health impact More>>


Leisure Management magazine 2016 issue 1

Leisure Management
2016 issue 1

View issue contents
View turning pages
Download PDF
  Thermal Spa: Taking the waters
Magali Robathan met the key people behind the Gainsborough Bath Spa More>>
  Regeneration: High ideals
In Utah, a bunch of hip entrepreneurs is creating a crowdfunded ski resort More>>


Published by The Leisure Media Company Ltd Portmill House, Portmill Lane, Hitchin, Herts SG5 1DJ. Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385 | Contact us | About us | © Cybertrek Ltd