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PureGym chief says despite ‘frankly awful’ 2020 losses, the budget fitness giant is ‘stronger’ in Covid era

Naomi Ackerman
·1-min read
<p>PureGym lost 12% of its members in 2020, to 1.5 million, and saw membership numbers fall further to 1.4 million by the end of March</p> (PureGym)

PureGym lost 12% of its members in 2020, to 1.5 million, and saw membership numbers fall further to 1.4 million by the end of March

(PureGym)

PureGym boss Humphrey Cobbold made no attempt to gloss over “frankly awful” losses for 2020 on Wednesday, but insisted the group is stronger for having “weathered the storm” of the pandemic.

The budget fitness giant reported a £214.6 million annual loss, against losses of £39.5 million in 2019, after revenues slumped by nearly 40% as UK gyms were shut for nearly half of the year’s trading days.

PureGym lost 12% of its members in 2020, to 1.5 million, and saw membership numbers fall further to 1.4 million by the end of March.

But the group highlighted its unqualified audit opinion with no material uncertainty over going concern, and said it has “excellent liquidity position and financial flexibility” due to “ a combination of careful cash management, an £100 million equity injection, a £50 million increase in debt facilities, a £40million bond raise in Feb 2021 post year end, and a long-term covenant waiver”.

The chain also said it saw an “excellent” reaction to reopening over the past week, after it threw open doors at 240 gyms across England on April 12.

Cobbold said: “Whilst the financial trading performance was, frankly, awful that was out of our hands.

“Our cost control and cash management was exemplary and the actions we took and support received from governments, equity investors and debt providers gives us significant liquidity to not only survive, but importantly now also resume our strategy. We are without doubt a stronger business for having weathered the storm.”

It comes after the chain said it will return to pursuing expansion as society reopens, and opened 10 new gyms over the past week.

The company believes that gyms “have an important role to play in sustaining vibrant high streets” post-pandemic.

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