The CEO of the chain of gymnasiums, José Antonio Sevilla, explains the direction taken by the company after the investment firm assumed the majority shareholding. "We do not put figures on growth, but we want to be ambitious," he says.
Altafit designs the move to address the leadership of the fitness industry in Spain. The chain of low-cost gyms aspires to become one of the big players in the sector in terms of turnover, and for this has drawn up a growth plan that is only possible with the financial boost of the MCH investment fund. "We do not put figures on growth, but we want to be ambitious," explains José Antonio Sevilla, CEO of Altafit, to Palco23.
The company, leader in number of gyms in Spain with 54 clubs, is controlled by the investment firm since last July. This corporate operation involved the integration with Ifitness, a company acquired by the fund, which during this month will complete the rebranding phase to operate through the Altafit brand.
Only another chain of the low-cost segment is owned by an investment fund. This is Viva Gym Group, which in Spain runs 23 centers and, together with its network of 35 Fitness Hut facilities in Portugal, totals 58 clubs in the Iberian Peninsula. The rest of the low-cost chains are financed with debt and own resources, and the Dutch Basic-Fit also did it through the stock market. Altafit, only in Spain, operates 54 centers.
For Sevilla, the entry of MCH into the capital "provides the structure, financial stability and resources to consolidate the brand and keep growing. It's something we have not done in recent years, which we've focused on consolidating. "Hence, in the last year the board of directors decided to go on the market in search of third-party financing and, after signing the contract, the valuation of 100% of the company and its debt has amounted to more than 40 million euros.
"At MCH we have found a travel companion with which to resume the expansion process in a forceful way. Now we have to be ambitious and choose the spaces that generate the greatest profitability, "he explains. Altafit, which for several years grew at the rate of ten annual openings, prefers not to put figures on its growth, but Sevilla ensures that it will bet on the opening of new centers and acquisitions.
The focus will be placed in Spain, without focusing the focus on a single region. It is a philosophy that the chain maintains intact with respect to the first years, when it opened centers in practically all the autonomous communities. With presence in 16 regions, only Ceuta and Melilla remain as the only communities where the company does not operate. "From the first day we have grown in several points of Spain, and so we will continue," says Sevilla.
Regarding the international jump, the chain has been analyzing the Portuguese, French and Central American markets for years and, although it has not yet signed any agreement outside of Spain, the manager says that "we will continue to address these options and other countries. We do not have an exit project in the short term, but growing internationally is in the strategic plan, "he says.
Sevilla ensures that the fund's support goes beyond the contribution of financial oxygen to deal with debt maturities and grow back. "The people in the fund come to enrich us, to contribute to the methodology. We will continue working with our method, and betting on our pillars, which is our team and the user experience, but we will learn about management issues, "he says.
To this learning phase will be added the one that comes from Ifitness. "It gives us value, and we are integrating the positive of them and ours. It is a bestial enrichment because we meet very good professionals, "he says, about a process in which the Altafit does not plan to impose its methodology without taking into account the know-how of Ifitness. It is expected that its integration will report around 10 million euros of turnover to Altafit, which added to the 25 million that entered in 2017, point to a joint turnover that exceeds 35 million euros in 2018.
Beyond the business strictly linked to gyms, the group has developed wearables and applications related to training monitoring. This is the Hexxa project, which will now be left on standby. "It is not in our strategic plan to continue manufacturing devices, but we do maintain the development team to work internal issues, such as our software. We are clear that we must invest more in knowing the consumer habits of customers. The objective? Meet the consumer of the future to define the most appropriate strategy".