Empowered Brands, owners of énergie Fitness, the UK’s leading low-cost fitness franchise business, has announced the appointment of Pietro Nicholls as non-executive chair and the promotion of director Peter Croney to CEO. The announcements follow the untimely death of Jan Spaticchia, highly respected chair of Empowered Brands, in May.
Nicholls joined the board as a non-executive director in early 2020, following a management buy-out of the ènergie Fitness business by Spaticchia and brings extensive investment banking and commercial experience into a business that’s scaling its international franchising and digital fitness business.
A fund manager and board director at alternative investment manager, RM Funds, Nicholls co-founded the £110m market cap investment company, RM Secured Direct Lending PLC in 2016.
The company is listed on the London Stock Exchange and has a focus on impact-led investment across social and environmental businesses.
Pietro Nicholls’ background
Nicholls started his career at Bear Stearns, subsequently joining JP Morgan and Barclays Corporate and Investment Banking. Over the last five years he has advised on and/or invested on-behalf of pension schemes, insurance companies and family offices over £1.5bn of capital across a range of asset classes and industries, including digital infrastructure, renewable energy and health and social care.
Nicholls said: “Jan Spaticchia developed an exceptional senior team at énergie Fitness who are committed to taking the business from good to great and I was delighted to accept the invitation to chair the company.
“The signing of two international master franchises, the opening of seven new UK clubs in the first six weeks since reopening (with five more by August) and a membership gain of 35,000, is a statement of intent.
“Empowered Brands’ strategic partnership with RM Funds will create value for our members, our franchisees and our shareholders.”
“I believe accessible, affordable fitness is the best form of preventative healthcare and will expand exponentially in a post-pandemic era when governments globally will prioritise fitness, health and obesity reduction,” said Nicholls. “Empowered Brands will bring product innovation into this expanding marketplace and as chair, I expect to support the highly experienced management team to deliver exceptional results.”
Announcing a new CEO
Peter Croney, the new CEO of Empowered Brands is an entrepreneur with a successful track record in owning and building businesses in the corporate retailing and leisure sectors.
A strategic thinker with decades of commercial experience, Croney has been the architect of énergie franchise sales and development strategy since 2006.
Working alongside former CEO, Jan Spaticchia, he played a significant role in building the value of the énergie business, leading up to a successful sale to private equity operator, Bridges Fund Management Ltd in 2019.
In 2020 Croney – as director and shareholder of Empowered Brands – helped deliver the successful MBO of the énergie Franchise Group.
Since the MBO, Croney has focussed on product growth and franchise expansion, however, following the untimely death of Spaticchia, Croney accepted an invitation from the board to lead the company as CEO.
Croney said: “Having been part of the team driving the business since 2006, I’m honoured to step up to be CEO and to lead both Empowered Brands and its world-class IPs, including the growing énergie Fitness operation.
“I’m passionate about the growth potential of Empowered Brands globally and am looking forward to expanding the company’s portfolio of brands and developing the business as a major global player in the fitness franchise sector.”