Shiwen Yap February 24, 2017

Celebrity Fitness and Kuala Lumpur-headquartered Fitness First Asia have merged in a move that will create one of the largest fitness club networks in Asia.

Financial terms of this merger were undisclosed, according to their announcement on Thursday. The merger will see Oaktree Capital Management and Navis Capital owning an equal share in Evolution Wellness, the new combined entity.

Evolution Wellness Holdings Pte. Ltd. (Evolution Wellness), a holding company incorporated in Singapore, will comprise 152 wholly-owned fitness clubs across Asia serving circa 400,000 members with a combined staff strength of approaching 7,000. Celebrity Fitness and Fitness First Asia posted revenues of $76 million and $219 million respectively for FY 2016.

Speaking on the merger, Nicholas Bloy, Managing Partner at Navis, said: “Celebrity Fitness has been a great success story since our acquisition in 2007 of the brand created by John Franklin. At the same time we have watched with admiration, the growth and success of Fitness First in the region.

“We’re excited to be taking the lead role in this new entity and will bring our sector knowledge and years of regional expertise to help Evolution Wellness develop and grow in new and dynamic ways to reach its fullest potential. We see tremendous opportunity in the health and fitness market in Asia, and with this merger, we have established a strong platform on which to build our ambition and enhance our market leadership position,” he adds.

Evolution Wellness will have a significant presence in the region post-merger, with operational scale in four key countries: Indonesia with 46 clubs; Malaysia with 35 clubs; Thailand with 28 clubs; and Singapore with 21 clubs.

The increased scale of operations will allow Evolution Wellness to capture opportunities in Asia, supported by strong macro and social trends including population growth, increasing urbanisation, growing GDP per capita, rising health awareness, higher health- related expenditure, and low gym membership penetration.

Evolution Wellness’ plans include enhancing member access privileges across the combined network, and building on the current network of 152 clubs throughout Asia with more new locations.

Both brands will continue to innovate and develop proprietary group fitness programmes including the introduction of pay-as-you-go group fitness packages, as well as leveraging technology for an enhanced member experience and convenience.

Justin Bickle, Managing Director, Oaktree, and Fitness First Board member, comments: “We’ve invested heavily into the Fitness First business, especially here in Asia, and have been delighted with the market response to our investments in club design and innovation.”

This article originally appeared in Deal Street Asia.