Business

Thousands cancel Gym Group memberships in lockdown

Man and woman wearing masks working out at a gym Image copyright Getty Images

One of the UK's biggest gym companies has said it lost about a fifth of its members during lockdown, despite halting membership payments.

The Gym Group said it had lost 178,000 customers over the past three months.

The company set out its plans to reopen nearly all of its gyms in England on 25 July, when restrictions on the sector are lifted.

Separately, Restaurant Group, the owner of Wagamama, said one in 10 of its outlets would not open until next year.

The company, which also owns Frankie & Benny's, said sites where low custom was anticipated, such as airports, would stay closed.

Meanwhile, footfall on UK High Streets fell by 63% in June, compared to the same month last year, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and market research firm ShopperTrak, as retailers reopened.

On Thursday, two of the UK's biggest High Street names, John Lewis and Boots, announced 5,300 job cuts.

'Long road ahead'

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson told the BBC's Today programme: "The real key now is seeing whether or not the lifting of restrictions around hospitality will take those numbers up further.

"But there is a long road ahead to get anything like a normal volume of people and, hence a normal volume of sales for those businesses that rely on people coming in."

Image copyright Getty Images

Last month, Restaurant Group announced that 120 Frankie & Benny's sites would close permanently, putting 3,000 jobs at risk.

On Friday, it said it was aiming to have 25% of its eateries open by the end of July, 60% by the end of August, and 90% by the end of September.

Earlier this week, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the "eat out to help out" scheme, where people can get a discount of up to £10 per head if they dine out.

The plan, estimated to cost £500m, is aimed boosting the UK hospitality industry which recently reopened after more than three months in lockdown.

'Encouraging response'

The Gym Group said it would open 160 sites in England on 25 July. Two gyms in locked-down Leicester and one being refurbished in London will stay closed for now.

It added that its 13 sites in Scotland and three in Wales would reopen "as soon as possible after relevant local restrictions are lifted".

"We are in the process of un-furloughing our colleagues, who will be ready to open the doors of our gyms in England on July 25 and in the other home nations once restrictions are lifted," said chief executive Richard Darwin.

"We are encouraged by the response of our members, the vast majority of whom are keen to get back to the gym to begin working out again."

For Gym Group's 692,000 remaining members, direct debit payments are due to restart, although they can request that they are frozen for longer.

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