British retailer Debenhams partners with health club group to trial in-store gyms

by Deven Pamben | 26 Oct 2017
We believe that by teaming with Sweat! we will optimise the space that is available in some of our stores
– Sergio Bucher, chief executive, Debenhams

The British multinational Debenhams is partnering former Virgin Active co-founder Frank Reed to launch in-store gyms as part of the retailer’s strategy to attract more customers and a younger female base.

Reed’s Sweat! gyms are set to be trialled in three stores from early 2018 under a membership model.

The deal is part of the Debenhams Redesigned strategy, which involves working with strategic partners to deliver its plan of making the chain more appealing to shoppers. The struggling chain reported that annual profits dipped 44 per cent to £59m (US$78m, €66m) on Thursday (26 October).

“Partnering with Debenhams provides Sweat! with access to attractive locations and the opportunity to engage with the retailers established loyal customer base," said Reed, who co-founded the Virgin Active health club chain in 1997.

“UK gym usage is forecast to reach the 20 per cent penetration rates achieved by parts of Europe and the US by 2020 and by providing a differentiated product in a place that is convenient to customers we anticipate that we will capitalise on growth for leisure experiences.”

Sweat! focuses on attracting female gym-goers and has 600-800 visits to each of its five UK gyms every day with a 55 per cent female customer base attending clubs 2-3 times per week.

The design of the Debenhams gyms will be brightly branded and offer dedicated studios for spinning and aerobics.

“We believe that by teaming with Sweat! we will optimise the space that is available in some of our stores whilst offering an attractive and credible leisure experience to customers,” said Sergio Bucher, Debenhams chief executive. “The partnership is a step closer to establishing Debenhams as a destination for leisure experiences and gives customers more reasons to visit us more often.”

Debenhams  Sweat!  Virgin Active  Sergio Bucher  Frank Reed 
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The British multinational Debenhams is partnering former Virgin Active co-founder Frank Reed to launch in-store gyms as part of the retailer’s strategy to attract more customers and a younger female base. Reed’s Sweat! gyms are set to be trialled in three stores from early 2018 under a membership model. The deal is part of the Debenhams Redesigned strategy, which involves working with strategic partners to deliver its plan of making
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Sweat! gyms are set to be trialled in three Debenhams stores from early 2018
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