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27 Dec 2018

1Rebel looking to expand in London and 'down under'
BY Tom Walker

James Balfour – whose father Mike Balfour is the founder of Fitness First – hopes to have up to 15 1Rebel clubs in London within the next five years

James Balfour – whose father Mike Balfour is the founder of Fitness First – hopes to have up to 15 1Rebel clubs in London within the next five years

Boutique fitness operator 1Rebel is looking to expand its London portfolio – as well as enter the Australian wellness market.

With a recently secured £6.6m investment from venture capital fund Codex Capital under its belt, 1Rebel plans to add to its existing five clubs in the UK capital.

The operator opened three new clubs in London in 2018 – Southbank in February, Bayswater in March and Victoria in June – and, according to co-founder James Balfour, already has three sites in the pipeline for 2019.

“We’ve certainly got to a point where the model is right for rollout,” Balfour told Health Club Management – adding that even more openings are possible.

He also revealed that plans are currently advancing to open the first 1Rebel outside of the UK.

The company has appointed a CEO and management team in Australia and plans to open its first club in either Sydney or Melbourne in the first half of 2019.

“There’s lots of opportunity in Australia and we know people too, from the days when Australia was the jewel of the Fitness First crown,” Balfour said.

“We’ve used our network in Australia to put a great team in place – a team we implicitly trust to execute the plan.

"The reason we like Australia is that, behind America, it’s the biggest market – and the Americans are already very good at boutiques. The market in the US is quite saturated too, plus, actually, they do things a bit differently. I think they’re best left alone.”

Balfour – whose father Mike Balfour is the founder of Fitness First – hopes to have up to 15 1Rebel clubs in London and eight or more in Australia within the next five years.

To read a full interview with Balfour and his plans for 1Rebel, click here for Health Club Management 2018 issue 11



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