KZN catching up with gyms

2012-03-07 00:00

GIANT health club group Virgin Active will invest tens of millions of rands in new projects and upgrades to existing gyms in KZN over the next few years.

This comes on the back of the group having invested more than R120 million in new gyms at Cascades and the Moses Mabhida Stadium over the past two years.

Ross Faragher-Thomas, Virgin Active’s CEO told The Witness that they are committed to reinvesting between R60 million and R70 million in at least six existing KZN clubs.

He added that three new clubs could be in the pipeline in KZN over the next 18 to 24 months.

While he would not name the locations of the three newly proposed gyms, he said that the KZN market remained an attractive investment destination for the group, which already owns 14 gyms in the province and about 99 in South Africa.

The group employs about 5 000 full-time and part-time staff in South Africa, including 1 200 in KZN.

“In a sense, KZN is playing catch-up with Gauteng. There has been relatively low new club growth in the province. We are now approaching the province with new vigour.”

He added that although it is a new gym, the uptake at Cascades has been adequate.

“It is still early days. There has been a lot of curiosity, but some members go back to the CBD club. However, there has also been some migration to Cascades, which is good because the CBD club is very busy.

“At one stage, we would never have thought that we would have two clubs in Pietermaritzburg, or even a club in Ballito.”

One of the group’s major investments was the classic club at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, which commands an average subscription rate of about R750 per month.

This upmarket club, which is located a mere 300 metres from an existing club, was developed at a cost of about R80 million and has a select group of less than 4 000 members.

“This development came about as a result of a public-private partnership. The city had a vision of a world-class stadium precinct.

This development would not have happened were it not for this vision. The club has a lower density than the average club, it has more equipment and the specifications and design are also different.”

Virgin Active’s Westville club is its busiest gym in KZN. Other growing nodes include Richards Bay, Gateway, La Lucia and the Durban City Centre.

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