Fitness investment chimes with Bell


Andy Bell, the founder of one of the region’s successful financial services businesses AJ Bell, has invested £1 million in a growing fitness franchise, which aims to employ 300 staff within two years.

Bell is backing Transform Hub with Fergus Lyons, a former associate director at the FTSE 250-listed investment platform and major sports sponsor.

Transform Hub operates 20 boutique group training studios, aimed at the over 30s market, across the North West, Yorkshire and London. Local operations include sites in Knutsford, Bury and Burnley – with an Altrincham studio due to open later this year.

The business was launched in 2018 by personal trainer and body transformation expert James Calderbank. It then turned to a new model in 2020 as gyms were forced to close during the pandemic.

Bell said: “The impressive growth that Transform Hub has experienced made it an easy investment decision. The potential to scale further through a focus on new franchisees is really exciting.
“We were also impressed by the team’s resilience to turn around during Covid-19 and launch a group service that promotes positive change, both physically and mentally.

“This commitment to helping others formed part of our decision to invest, as well as an attractive overall package.”

The Transform Hub deal sees Bell and Lyons each take a 12.5% ​​stake in the business with the current founders retaining 75% ownership.

Together with co-founders Wendy Barker and Justin Devonshire, Calderbank has relaunched a plug-and-play.
model that enables franchisees to create a profitable Transform Hub within three months. The 30-year-old from Preston said: “We knew there would be a huge demand for personal training after lockdown and our franchise model allows owners to focus on running their own personal studios.”

And it comes six months after the pair invested £1.2m in Fuel Hub, a healthy meal delivery business founded by retired professional rugby player James Laithwaite and his wife.

Speaking of the Transform Hub investment, Lyons added: “The traditional gym model doesn’t work for everyone and the level of care, support and accountability that Hubs gives to members has been a huge contributor to the success story so far.”

The £1m investment will go towards acquiring new franchise sites as the team aims to employ 300 people across 100 sites by 2025. It is believed that new sites will either be greenfield, start-ups, or involve distressed takeovers

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