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13 Nov 2023
CORRECTION: New operator launches UK health club chain as XF Holdings reveals first 40,000sq ft Xtrafit location
By Liz Terry
CORRECTION: New operator launches UK health club chain as XF Holdings reveals first 40,000sq ft Xtrafit location
German operator, Xtrafit is coming to the UK with a 40,000sq ft health club
Photo: Xtrafit
CORRECTION

A previous version of this story reported that the UK operations of Xtrafit were connected to the German Xtrafit business. We now understand that this is not the case and have amended this story to clarify this point.

New-launch health club operator, XF Holdings, has signed its first location in the UK by taking 40,000sq ft at the former Debenhams department store site in Merry Hill, West Midlands. The club – called Xtrafit – will open in 2024.

The company is connected to Axel Lankes, a former shareholder of German operator Xtrafit, which has 17 locations open in Germany across 13 major cities, however, the two companies do not have any mutual shareholdings or connections.

A spokesperson for Xtrafit Germany told HCM the UK operation is an independent startup and “not legally or organisationally linked to Xtrafit Germany.”

Lankes has parted company with Xtrafit Germany, with the official statement saying: “Xtrafit (Germany) has ‘optimised’ its shareholder structure and as part of this process, Axel Lankes, a former minority shareholder of the Xtrafit Group, has exited the company.

“The acquisition of his shares was completed by Schmidt Fitness-Beteiligungs GmbH, the holding company of the main shareholder Ulrich Schmidt.”

Lankes is understood to have established XF Holdings Ltd in the UK in 2019, along with registering the naming rights for Xtrafit in the UK, with the view to potentially expanding the German business into the UK market, but that the management team of Xtrafit Germany ultimately did not support the idea.

Now Lankes is no longer part of Xtrafit Germany the idea of the UK launch has been revived and acted upon.

Xtrafit Germany told HCM it “reserves the right to examine legal measures” in relation to the situation if it feels its intellectual property rights are being infringed.

It’s understood that Lankes plans to open three Xtrafit clubs in the UK in quick succession, before going on to steadily build out the portfolio.

Xtrafit UK will offer a premium product and large footprint with a low-cost pricing structure and its thought the Merry Hill location will look to attract around 8,000 members, although this has not been confirmed by XF Holdings.

The site in Merry Hill was let to XF Holdings by site management company, Sovereign Centros, which set out to find a health club anchor tenant. Graeme Jones, Sovereign's director of asset management said: "Fitness is an important facet of a well-rounded and future-proofed retail and leisure offer that keeps customers coming back."

Laurence Benson, who will lead the Xtrafit business in the UK, said: "Our Merry Hill opening will be the first step in our UK mission to better the health and wellness of everybody, by building high-quality athletic environments at an accessible price-point. We have the opportunity to create a destination that aligns with our community-focused values."

XF Holdings was represented by Rob Howarth at Leisure Division in the letting negotiations.

Xtrafit Germany told HCM the company’s leadership structure remains unchanged since the reorganisation, with MDs Fabian Menzel and Gabriel Vogel leading the management team.

“In line with strategic planning, [Xtrafit Germany] will continue to expand sustainably in the coming years, aiming to open two to three new studios each year,” said the spokesperson. “Two new locations are already confirmed: in 2024, a second studio will open in Wiesbaden in the Äppelallee-Center and in 2025, a new flagship studio is planned for Cologne’s Schildergasse.

CORRECTION

A previous version of this story reported that the UK operations of Xtrafit were connected to the German Xtrafit business. We now understand that this is not the case and have amended this story to clarify this point.

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