One of the biggest US spa franchisors, Massage Envy, has expanded internationally with the opening of two sites in Sydney, Australia.
The new locations are the first in a 100-unit, 15-year deal between Massage Envy and Australia-based Collective Wellness Group, which will manage Massage Envy’s operations in the country. The group also oversees Australia’s 450 Anytime Fitness clubs.
Lee Knowlton, senior vice president of global sales and international at Massage Envy, says he hopes to have 40-50 stores open in Australia in the next three years, with Sydney and Melbourne as the firm’s primary focus.
“I think we’ll see our growth in Australia accelerate over the next few years,” says Knowlton. “They [Collective Wellness] already have the infrastructure and the real estate, and they’re really strong players in the market.”
Knowlton says he looks at things like population, income, GDP, taxes, the economy and awareness of the product when he’s considering international locations, but that finding the right master-franchise partner is also important – and was key in selecting Australia as the inaugural country for international expansion. “We’re looking to find a partner to help us develop in the whole country,” he explains.
The first Sydney location is 2,100sq ft (195sq m) with 10 treatment rooms – a slight dip in Massage Envy’s US model, which is typically closer to 3,400sq ft (316sq m) – and Knowlton says the firm will likely stick to the smaller model for international sites, where real estate tends to be pricier than in the US market.
The business model, branding and design of the spas will be similar to in the US, with offerings of 1-, 1.5- and 2-hour massages and facials, with membership pricing at AU$69 (US$52, €45, £36) for a 1-hour treatment.
The first Massage Envy in Sydney is also located several doors down from an Anytime Fitness location, and while Knowlton says future locations won’t necessarily be co-located, there is certainly the potential to do so – and possible synergy between the brands.
“They’re similar brand experiences,” he says. “In theory, you could go work out and then go get a massage, so I think we’ll probably have quite a few of those down the line.”
Knowlton hopes to have another international location signed by the end of this year – with Canada, Mexico, the UAE, the UK and South Korea top of the list – and up to three countries per year from then on.
Massage Envy currently has more than 1,100 franchise locations in 49 US states.