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£250m pledged for low-cost gyms

Ashley bankrolls network of Sports Direct fitness centres

Mike Ashley BBCRetail tycoon Mike Ashley is launching a property investment company to back the roll-out of Sports Direct’s new combined retail and fitness superstores across the country.

The stores consist of two floors of clothing and sports equipment along with a low-cost gymnasium, Sports Direct Fitness.

Mr Ashley, who retains a 55% stake in Sports Direct, already runs 30 Sports Direct Fitness gyms following its acquisition of 30 sites from LA Fitness last year.

Britain’s biggest sports retailer  has been trialling its first purpose-built fitness club on Merseyside and he will expand the concept, starting in the south east. He is said to be looking at brownfield sites across the UK to open 200 gyms.

Mr Ashley has appointed Michael Murray, formerly of Central London Properties, to the new role of property director to seek out locations.

 

The new investment company has an initial £250 million to spend on the concept which is being led by Sports Direct chief executive David Forsey.

The gyms charge as little as £5 a month, cashing in on the popularity of low-cost facilities.

The move into fitness is the latest plan to extend the Sports Direct brand by the Newcastle United owner and Rangers shareholder.

He has grown Sports Direct into a FTSE 100 company since he founded it in Maidenhead in 1982. The group is currently valued on the stock market at around £4.4 billion.

 

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