Clearwater International advises Fitness Hut on its cross-border sale to Bridges-backed Viva Gym, to create the leading Iberian gym group

Clearwater International has advised Portugal-based gym group Fitness Hut, on its sale to Spain-based gym group Viva Gym, backed by private equity firm Bridges Fund Management (Bridges). This will create the leading low-cost fitness group in the Iberian region, with nearly 200,000 members, combined revenues of over €50m, and outstanding prospects for further growth.

As Portugal’s leading premium low-cost gym operator, with 31 clubs, Fitness Hut offers its 110,000 members access to high quality facilities, nutritional services and over 3,300 fitness classes per week.

Viva Gym is a high-quality, low-cost Spanish gym group, founded in 2011 by private equity firm Magenta Partners. Bridges acquired a majority stake in Viva Gym in 2015. Bridges has a wealth of experience in this sector, having originally launched The Gym Group, which pioneered the concept in the UK, and more recently invested in both Viva Gym and Impact Fitness.

The acquisition of Fitness Hut has been made possible by a further investment by Bridges, plus additional co-investment from Magenta Partners, Hermes GPE and the management teams of the two businesses. Fitness Hut’s founding investor Edge Capital and subsequent investor Oxy Capital will exit as part of the deal.

The health and fitness sector continues to thrive in both Spain and Portugal, and the low-cost segment is the fastest-growing part of those markets. The combined group – which will be led by Viva CEO Juan del Río Nieto, and will continue to operate under two separate brands – will initially have 48 sites, making it the largest low-cost group in the region.

In this transaction, Clearwater International offered a cross-border advisory service to Fitness Hut. The team comprised of Partners, Gareth Iley and José Lemos, Associate Directors Duarte Vaz, Daniel Rossington and Afonso Lima, and Senior Associate, Louise Hooper.

“It’s been a pleasure to advise on this cross-border transaction, bringing together two strong companies with exceptional management teams, to form an unrivalled Iberian market leader. Our team drawn from the UK and Portugal was able to combine local knowledge and presence, with sector insight and relationships to deliver an excellent outcome for Fitness Hut. With the increasing consumer demand for convenient, low-cost gyms that still maintain high quality, the growth potential is vast and we look forward to seeing this partnership thrive.”

Gareth Iley, Partner and head of consumer, Clearwater International

“It is our strong belief that this transaction had a truly successful outcome. Not only was there the opportunity to transform an excellent Portuguese company into an Iberian market leader, but also the high-quality management team was able to assume a relevant role in the international expansion. The achievement of this deal is a consequence of the credibility of Clearwater and evidence that we combine local knowledge with global expertise, through a senior and experienced team, reaching outstanding results for our clients.”

José Lemos, Partner, Clearwater International

“Bridges has known the Fitness Hut team for six years, and we have long admired the business they have built. By bringing these two companies together, we have built a highly experienced and complementary management team and Board. There is a clear opportunity for the two brands to improve their offering by sharing knowledge and best practice, and committed funding is in place to deliver an accelerated growth plan. Given Bridges’ track record of improving accessibility to fitness and driving better health outcomes, we think this is a great opportunity to create another ‘best in class’ operator within the European low-cost gym sector.”

James Hurrell, Investment Director, Bridges

“We’ve come to know the Bridges and Viva teams very well over the last few years, so they were an obvious choice of partner as we embark on our next phase of growth. We’re very excited about the opportunity for low-cost fitness in Iberia, and we look forward to working with our new partners to become the undisputed market leader in Spain and Portugal.”

Nick Coutts, Co-Founder, Fitness Hut