Sport, parks and leisure - Go Fit CEO, Mário Barbosa, unveils expansion plans in this month’s HCM...
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15 Apr 2024

Go Fit CEO, Mário Barbosa, unveils expansion plans in this month’s HCM
BY Kath Hudson

Mário Barbosa speaks in this month's HCM about plans for the brand

Mário Barbosa speaks in this month's HCM about plans for the brand
photo: Go Fit/PabloTribello_Alta

Having redefined the model of public-private collaboration in Spain, Go Fit is now expanding into Italy and has ambitious plans to grow its estate, memberships and profits.

Speaking exclusively in this month’s HCM, Go Fit’s new CEO, Mário Barbosa, talks about the company’s ambitions to enter new markets, reach new audiences and raise revenues.

Last year Go Fit achieved record revenues of €77m and EBITDA of €31m in March 2023, exceeding like-for-like pre-pandemic figures. Along with plans to open two new sites a year, there are ambitions to double revenue and EBITDA over the next five years.

The company's profits are bolstered by its strong public-private alliances, which deliver favourable property transactions.

Go Fit’s model involves entering into 40-year agreements with local authorities and social-minded landowners to create clubs. This approach has been recognised by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe as delivering best practice in public-private collaboration. In 2019, PricewaterhouseCoopers calculated Go Fit’s social value in Spain to be €300m.

This approach to sustainable public-private collaboration doesn’t yet exist in Italy, but Go Fit already has the first two sites lined up and believes the concept will be popular. “With our approach generally involving the regeneration of abandoned buildings and areas of cities, we expect there to be significant interest from local authorities across the country,” says Barbosa.

“We believe our value proposition will be of great relevance to the Italian population, too. At the moment, the market is characterised by either low-cost or premium clubs: there’s nobody offering Go Fit’s variety of products and services at our affordable price point. In fact, in the decades ahead, we believe Italy has the potential to become as big a market as Iberia for us – potentially bigger.”

The first project in Italy is converting an historic flower market in Turin and the first public-private concession is Milan Lido, which will see a huge area of the city regenerated under a 40-year agreement that has been designed to unlock future projects with other cities.

The company currently has 18 sites in Spain and one opening in Tenerife next year. As it starts its overseas expansion, Italy will be the main focus, but there are also plans to expand on the two sites in Portugal and UK is seen as an opportunity further down the line. Barbosa says the model is of interest in the UK and there are “no shortage of partners keen to progress with us.”

Barbosoa, who gave the keynote speech at last week’s European Health & Fitness Forum, has been in the post for one year, and has a background outside of the sector, working for McDonald’s for 23 years.

“What McDonald’s taught me was how to evolve and adapt to new circumstances: seeking out the opportunities, looking beyond where one might normally look for inspiration, forging different paths to overcome new challenges. This is a mindset I’m excited to bring to Go Fit,” he says.

As well as geographical expansion, Go Fit is looking to expand its audiences. Currently families are the main focus, making up 50 per cent of the membership, but there has recently been an upsurge from young people – who use the clubs as places to socialise – and older populations.

Going forward, other focuses highlighted by Barbosa include investing in sustainability, with the goal for all new centres to be Net Zero; offering targeted, certified, continuous professional development; investing in social value and building links with the local communities.

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