Business

Sports Direct to open budget gym chain

women in gym Image copyright Thinkstock

Sports Direct has unveiled plans for a budget gym chain which it claims will "revolutionise" the fitness market.

The High Street sports chain, founded by Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, plans to open 200 gyms offering membership from £5 a month.

Members will also have to pay a £10 joining fee.

The decision follows its acquisition of 30 sites from gym chain LA Fitness, which it is in the process of rebranding.

The first gym will open in Liverpool's Aintree, with the second in Keighley in West Yorkshire.

The gym in Aintree will be next to a new Sports Direct superstore.

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"This will be affordable fitness on an unprecedented scale," said a spokesman for Sports Direct.

"It will revolutionise the market by making private gym membership a realistic lifestyle choice for millions of people," he added.

Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Freddie George said it was "a good move".

"There's a real gap in the market for this and there's some overlap with its sporting goods stores".

The firm's shares were down 2.7% on Tuesday. Mr George said shareholders might be concerned the firm could be diversifying too far.

Sports Direct's move into budget gyms comes after two gym companies - Pure Gym and the Gym Group - ditched plans to merge and create a new low-cost player in the market.

Sports Direct, founded by Mike Ashley in 1982, operates 418 sports stores in the UK.

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