We had to run a business with zero income for extended periods, a previously unthinkable scenario
– Humphrey Cobbold
PureGym saw its group-wide revenue decline by £177m during 2020, as it lost 37 per cent of its trading days due to pandemic lockdowns.
Announcing its full-year results, the budget operator said it had experienced a "brutal year", but that it had emerged a "stronger business" as a result of it.
PureGym started 2020 with 504 clubs across Europe (the UK, Denmark, Switzerland and Poland).
During the year, the group closed its Polish operations – following a strategic review – and ended the year with 492 gyms across its estate.
Last week PureGym re-opened 240 gyms in England, including 10 brand new gyms across the country.
On Monday (19 April) PureGym re-opened its 40 gyms in Switzerland and will re-open in Scotland next week.
The group expects to open its Danish, Welsh and Northern Irish sites in early May.
Figures suggest that the company's measures to keep members engaged during the pandemic – and the subsequent closures – have worked. The company lost just 12 per cent of its members during 2020, with total membership falling from 1.7 million to 1.5 million.
PureGym said it accelerated its digital strategy during the year through an enhanced PureGym app, which enabled contactless entrance and exit, displayed gym capacity and made available more than 400 pre-recorded workouts, classes and nutrition content.
It was also able to maintain its liquidity through a combination of cash management, a £100m equity injection, £50m increase in debt facilities, £40m bond raise (in Feb 2021 post year end) and a long-term covenant waiver.
Describing its performance, Humphrey Cobbold, CEO of The PureGym Group, said: “2020 was a very tough year as the world reacted to the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has adversely impacted lives and livelihoods.
"Lockdown restrictions prevented us from trading and had a severe impact on our financial performance. But we should be judged on how we managed the things within our control.
"I am in awe of how our teams in the UK, Denmark and Switzerland rallied to preserve the business, protect our colleagues and members and handled adversity with unbowed optimism, stoicism, professionalism and flexibility.
"We had to run a business with zero income for extended periods, a previously unthinkable scenario. We had to make major operational changes in the tightest of time frames and alter our proposition in weeks that would have taken years in normal times.
“While the financial trading performance was, frankly, awful, that was out of our hands.
"Our cost control and cash management was exemplary and the actions we took and support received from governments, equity investors and debt providers gives us significant liquidity to not only survive, but importantly now also resume our strategy.
"We're without doubt a stronger business for having weathered the storm.
"We're particularly pleased to have received an unqualified audit opinion with no material uncertainty over going concern and emerge from this crisis with real optimism and exciting plans for the future.
“We're more than satisfied with the recent re-opening in England which included 10 brand new sites. Member response and new joiners support our view that underlying demand for gyms is strong.
"As health and wellness move further up the public agenda there will be strong demand for affordable, flexible fitness where people can use tens of thousands of pounds of equipment over the course of a workout and increasingly use technology to assist with their fitness goals.
"We want to be Europe’s leading fitness provider and are well placed and capitalised to continue to expand to reach this goal.”