Barry’s UK has entered the retail sector by launching at Flannels’ department store in Liverpool
The collaboration aims to leverage the crossover between the two brands’ audiences
Parent company Frasers Group – also owner of Everlast Gyms – is planning 15 more Flannels stores in the next five years
Barry’s is also targeting fitness-focused revellers with daily pop-up classes at Ibiza’s Destino Pacha this summer
Barry’s has entered the world of retail, opening a studio in the new Flannels flagship luxury department store in Liverpool, which debuts today (23 June 2022).
The 7,000sq ft studio is located on the store's 'world of activewear' floor, centred around Barry's famous Red Room and accommodates up to 59 clients per class.
Barry's UK co-founder Sandy Macaskill says the company is back to 90 per cent capacity since the end of lockdown and has a new focus on growth. He's inspired by how the fashion industry is constantly innovating and disrupting through big-name collaborations and is positioning Barry’s to be part of this movement.
With Flannels seeking to engage customers through new and differentiated experiences, he says the partnership is a way to leverage the crossover between the two brands’ audiences to move both forward.
“Opening in Liverpool inside Flannels is a new way of bringing the best workout in the world to a new community,” said Macaskill. “We've been driven from the start to shake up the status quo and move things along, rather than doing what our peers are doing, which is why we brought Barry’s to the UK from the US in the first place.”
Both brands will use the collaboration to test-drive clothing and equipment and host joint events for their customers.
Flannels’ luxury retail format was introduced by Mike Ashley, the owner of the store’s parent company Frasers Group. It is now fronted by Michael Murray who became the group’s new CEO in May 2022. The company announced it would develop three new Flannels flagships with fitness studios
At the time, in his former role as head of elevation, Murray said: “Liverpool is the fifth largest retail centre in the country, and in our opinion underserved – we’ll be the first and only multi-category destination to mark the city.
“The market has an unmatched appetite for the type of luxury we do best. We’re incredibly excited to deliver a world-class experience to the city and have no doubts about the success of our strategy.”
Boutique fitness pioneer Barry’s – renowned for its Red Room HIIT and pacey strength-training sessions – launched in Los Angeles in 1998 and was brought to the UK by Macaskill and his brother James in 2013. It now has clubs in destinations all over the world, including in many European locations, in addition to Australia, Canada, Asia and the Middle East.
Next year Barry’s will be celebrating its 25th anniversary and Macaskill confirms that they are not only looking to reach new audiences, but also want to serve the current customer base by plugging into where that audience lives, shops, eats, and so on, to be part of their broader lifestyle. To this end they are also partnering with Ibiza’s Destino Pacha resort for a six-week summer residency hosting four daily pop-up classes. Macaskill says they are catering for a new tribe of “wellness warrior” that balances hedonism with health and wellbeing.
Whether Barry’s will expand with Flannels as it opens 15 more stores over the next five years in the UK remains to be seen, but the opportunity is potentially there. “At the moment I honestly couldn’t say whether we expect to expand along these lines,” said Macaskill. “Right now, I’m just excited to see what happens.”
In 2020, Frasers Group acquired the fitness assets
– 75 sports retail stores and 73 health clubs – of DW Sports for £37m. Already owners of the Everlast gym chain (and Sports Direct outlets) Frasers confirmed it would operate the clubs under the Everlast brand.
There has been some speculation around why Frasers has chosen to partner with Barry’s rather than deploy its Everlast brand, but this may be because Flannels’ customers cross over more with a dedicated boutique fitness audience.
In an exclusive interview with the MD of Everlast Gyms Dan Summerson – from the upcoming issue of HCM magazine
– Summerson explains how it was his job, back in 2021, to unite the DW Sports clubs, Sports Direct outlets and Everlast gyms, saying he leads Everlast by drawing on his experience of working in big-box fitness, such as Fitness First, and in the boutique sector (including TRIB3 and BXF).
“We’ve set out to make our gyms feel like a hybrid, taking what we consider to be the outstanding elements from the boutique environment and from the big box environment and bringing them together,” he said.
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