Anytime Fitness Asia Acquired by Inspire Brands Asia Amidst COVID-19 Crisis
Anytime Fitness Asia has been purchased by Inspire Brands Asia, a consortium led by its top submaster franchisees, lead investor Exacta Capital Partners, and co-investor Aura Group. The acquisition includes the Master Franchisee license in Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and Macau, with over 350 locations sold and over 250 gyms opened. Members of the consortium merged their gym management businesses into the group, which operate over 30% of the brand’s footprint in Asia.
In the last four years, Anytime Fitness Asia’s compound annual growth rates of 49% in franchise sales and 55% in gym openings were driven by the submaster franchisees in Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore. After half a decade as top franchisees and country leaders, the consortium has acquired Anytime Fitness Asia and consolidated their submaster franchisees, owned gyms, and gym management services into Inspire Brands Asia.
Luke Guanlao, Inspire Brands Asia Group CEO and concurrent Anytime Fitness Asia COO summarizes, “I have been with Anytime Fitness for over 10 years. 2020 marks my first decade as a franchisee, and the beginning of my journey as a master franchisee. From lawyer to gym owner in Australia to multi-gym owner in three countries, to now leading this new consortium, I am excited to be in a meaningful position to guide, coach, and mentor our franchisees to achieve their version of success. We are positioned strongly to take advantage of opportunities that will open up as our gyms reopen and we navigate a new normal after this pandemic.”
Fast expansion will fall under Johannes Raadsma, Chief Growth Officer, Anytime Fitness Asia, “Immunity has become second only to social distancing as a buzzword, and people are now more aware of actively maintaining their health. Our first gyms to reopen in Hong Kong show that gym usage is just as strong as it was pre-COVID-19. With our track record in gym management services, we are able to support both operators and investors in a business that will not just be profitable but also welcomes people of all levels of fitness into a new and healthier lifestyle.”
Kota Igarashi, Chief Executive Officer of Mizuho Asia Partners, investment advisor to Exacta Capital Partners, says, “Anytime Fitness Asia has set the standard in the fitness industry for value delivered to both franchisees and gym members. We believe the brand’s outstanding value proposition and differentiated model place it in a unique position to thrive in a post-COVID-19 world. Moreover, we are proud and excited to partner with an incredible team that has a terrific track record with Anytime Fitness and the right skillset to help franchisees and members achieve their goals.”
The significance of the deal amid the COVID-19 pandemic is not lost on Charles Wong, Executive Director of Aura Group. “This is noteworthy not just in private equity, but also in M&A history. Completing the deal amidst this black swan backdrop involved not only an assessment of the brand and its capacity to withstand enforced gym closures, but also a long-term outlook on the industry. Anytime Fitness is proven in Asia and capitalizes on its smaller footprint in accessible community locations, as well as a lower cost of entry and maintenance, which ensures that gyms will not only reopen safely but also grow post-COVID-19. The brand, the model, and the experience of our partners are why we at Aura are privileged to be part of this landmark deal.”
Helping franchisees with their goals is Andrea Bell’s passion. Says the Anytime Fitness Asia Chief Support Officer, “Providing support is important in having a network of highly engaged franchisees. We have seen the connection between engagement and profitability in our gyms, and we have robust systems in place to ensure that everyone, from owners who operate their own gyms to investors who use gym management services, see the results with their members, their staff, and in their bottom line.”
Anytime Fitness Asia will continue to be headed by CEO Rey Bolivar, who summarizes the deal as, “These are exciting times ahead. Our daily lives have been changed forever, and the Anytime Fitness brand in Asia is prepared to change along with the times to support our members, staff, and franchisees through this crisis and beyond. We look forward to welcoming members back into the gym as we reopen, and welcoming opportunities as they come.”
Photo by Freddy Morales