Search

Ipswich gym at risk as parent company goes into administration

PUBLISHED: 15:28 03 August 2020 | UPDATED: 16:35 03 August 2020

DW Fitness First, in Ranelagh Road, Ipswich, is in danger of closing as its owner files for administration. Picture: ARCHANT

DW Fitness First, in Ranelagh Road, Ipswich, is in danger of closing as its owner files for administration. Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

The future of an Ipswich gym is uncertain after its parent company announced it would go into administration, putting 1,700 jobs at risk.

DW Sports, which runs the DW Fitness First in Ranelagh Road, is expected to appoint insolvency specialists on Monday after its income was wiped out by the protracted closure of stores and gyms during lockdown.

The firm, which was founded by former Wigan Athletic owner Dave Whelan, operated 73 gyms and 75 retail sites across the UK.

However, it announced plans to shut 25 of its stores last month.

The company said it will now wind down its retail business for good, with its website ceasing trading with immediate effect and closing-down sales starting at its 50 remaining stores.

A spokeswoman for DW Sports confirmed that the Ranelagh Road site is at risk, despite the firm stressing that Fitness First will continue to operate as a separate company and its 43 clubs will be unaffected by the administration.

MORE: Time for government to ‘put their hand in their pocket’ after handbrake announcement say businesses

You may also want to watch:

DW Sports is expected to try to protect as many jobs and gyms as possible through the restructuring process.

The administrators intend to support employees, customers and gym members as far as possible while they look to secure a buyer or buyers for some or all of the DW Sports portfolio.

At present, 59 of its gyms have reopened in England and Northern Ireland, with a further 14 sites in England, Scotland and Wales unable to open due to Government restrictions.

Chief executive Martin Long said: “As a consequence of Covid-19, we found ourselves in a position where we were mandated by government to close down both our retail store portfolio and our gym chain in its entirety for a protracted period, leaving us with a high fixed-cost base and zero income.

“Like many other retail businesses, the consequences of this extremely challenging operating market have created inevitable profitability issues for DW Sports.

“The decision to appoint administrators has not been taken lightly but will give us the best chance to protect viable parts of the business, return them to profitability, and secure as many jobs as possible.

MORE: Salon owner hits out at government over late notice on ban on facial treatments

“It is a difficult model for any business to manage through without long-term damage, and with the limited support which we have been able to gain.

“Having exhausted all other available options for the business, we firmly believe that this process can be a platform to restructure the business and preserve many of our gyms for our members, and also protect the maximum number of jobs possible for our team members.”


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Ipswich Star. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Search hundreds of local jobs at Jobs24

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Ipswich Star