Sat | Jan 25, 2020

Sagicor Investments acquires 10% of Express Fitness

Published:Sunday | December 8, 2019 | 12:19 AMKarena Bennett - Business Reporter
An Express Fitness 24/7 gym, at Manor Centre, Kingston.
An Express Fitness 24/7 gym, at Manor Centre, Kingston.

Norbrook Equity Partners, the parent company of Express Fitness Limited, has sold 10 per cent of its stake in Express Fitness to financial services company Sagicor Investments Jamaica Limited.

The deal comes just a month shy of a year since Norbrook Equity, which is headed by Khary Robinson, took over the chain of gymnasiums from its founder Ansel Clarke.

The investment values Express Fitness at more than $2.3 billion, said parent company Norbrook in a joint statement with Sagicor Investments, which implies the stake taken by Sagicor is worth $230 million.

Robinson intends to use the funds to expand Express Fitness into a regional health and wellness platform – incorporating fitness centres, concept gyms, nutrition centres and other wellness solutions. He hopes to have a network of about 20 fitness facilities across the Caribbean by the end of 2020.

Express Fitness currently operates 11 centres across Jamaica, spanning Kingston, Portmore, Mandeville, Montego Bay and Savanna-la-Mar. Another six are under development at Constant Spring Road and Cross Roads in Kingston; Portmore, St Catherine; May Pen, Clarendon and a Montego Bay gym, which is slated to open in the first week of January.

The size of the investment was not disclosed. However, Robinson previously indicated that he expected to invest about $300 million in the initial expansion programme.

The gym under development at Constant Spring Golf Course will “become the largest fitness facility in the Caribbean”, as well as the flagship centre for the chain, he told the Financial Gleaner on Thursday. The 22,000 square foot facility will include a traditional gym under the Express Fitness Platinum brand, a cross-training and cross-fit facility, and a running track.

The other locations being scouted for Express Fitness to meet its target of at least 20 fitness facilities by 2020 are in Bahamas, Barbados, Trinidad and the Cayman Islands.

“We are in dialogue, we have looked at sites and we have a couple acquisition candidates,” Robinson said.

Partnership

The deal with Sagicor Investments, he adds, also opens the door for partnership with its sister company Sagicor Life Jamaica Limited. Both are members of the Sagicor Group Jamaica, which in turn is owned primarily by Barbados-based Sagicor Financial.

“The idea is that Sagicor has a bunch of clients who they are serving through health insurance, so we will be facilitating the need for them to become healthier after sickness. So where this partnership comes in is that we are almost preventive in that we are trying to get their insured clients healthier. It’s a holistic approach to health so that is nutrition, mental health, fitness,” said Robinson.

“So we will start with the gym as our core, and move into our areas of health and wellness. Sagicor has over one million people across the Caribbean that they serve so the idea is to work together with them. We will launch a programme and will give the details when the time comes,” the executive chairman said.

Sagicor did not respond to requests for comment.

Norbrook Equity Partners expects to publicly list Express Fitness in short order to further its growth mission. The gym first opened to members in 2012.

Norbrook has made 33 acquisitions over the past decade. Its portfolio includes e-commerce company Mailpac; a transaction processing outfit in Jamaica called ePay; ice manufacturer Pure National Limited; the local arm of car rental company, Hertz; and water provider, JamAgua.

karena.bennett@gleanerjm.com