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Fitness investor opens first in 250-strong chain of strength centres

THE FITNESS franchise investor behind the UK’s leading gym operator Energie Fitness has opened the first of up to 250 new boxing and strength training centres.

Empowered Brands, based in Milton Keynes, opened its inaugural UBX Boxing + Strength site in Manchester today (Thursday).

Having announced post-pandemic sales of £33 million across its Energie Fitness portfolio, Empowered Brands is looking to open up to 250 clubs over the next eight years, with six already confirmed to open by September this year.

UBX was founded in 2016 by four-time world champion Australian boxer Danny Green and fitness and tech entrepreneur Tim West. There are now more than 90 clubs across Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. The concept is based on a blend of non-contact group boxing and strength training, backed by science and delivered by world class coaches with convenience, enjoyment and results at its core.

The mission is to take boxing and transform it from an individual pursuit into a team culture, says John Jempson, managing director of UBX Boxing + Strength, UK & Ireland and chief financial officer at Empowered Brands. “Convenience, variety and trainer support are among the top three priorities when it comes to selecting a fitness activity and UBX delivers on them like no other concept.”

UBX’s gym in Manchester, the first of a planned 250 new clubs by the end of the decade.

The announcement is in response to growing customer demand. Energie Fitness has more than 80 clubs and 114,000 members in the UK and has seen membership grow to 14 per cent over its pre-pandemic numbers. Empowered Brands has opened 22 Energie Fitness clubs in the UK, Ireland and Spain since March 2020.

Mr Jempson said: “With movement towards flexible work schedules and an increased demand for social connection, not to mention a boom in interest for skills-based classes and boutique fitness across the industry, we’re expecting impressive results across our UBX Boxing + Strength franchises. Convenience-wise, the model is completely unrivalled too which means exceptional retention.”

The UBX model is unique, he added, because such a small space is required as compared to other fitness franchise investments – only around 1,500 sq ft a club – but possible member capacity is high. Start-up capital required is relatively low – between £130,000 and £200,000 including an initial personal investment of £40,000 from the franchise owner.

Empowered Brands chairman Pietro Nicholls said: “The predictability of UBX’s franchise model makes it an attractive prospect to franchisees. When you consider investing in one’s health and well-being is an essential consumer spending item too, we are extremely excited to commence the roll out of UBX clubs across the UK.”

Each new UBX club is expected to require at least three members of staff. The 250-club rollout could generate in the region of 1,250 new jobs.

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