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08 Oct 2019

BMF plans to diversify and 'go global' through franchising
BY Tom Walker

Matthews said BMF is actively looking to franchise the concept

Matthews said BMF is actively looking to franchise the concept

Be Military Fit (BMF) is planning to diversify its offer – and then expand globally through franchising – according to managing director Tommy Matthews.

Speaking to HCM magazine, Matthews said the company is keen to grow its footprint – but to do so has had to look hard at transforming its offer.

The outdoor fitness specialist has traditionally been associated with military-style training, often led by former military personnel.

"We’ve begun to diversify beyond these bootcamp-style classes, introducing new programmes to extend the appeal of BMF," Matthews said.

"For example, our Active programme has been designed for complete beginners, including older adults. We also have a programme called Crossrun, which is an elite-level running club programme, allowing us to add real value to those looking to do a 5k, a marathon or an ultra-marathon.

"BMF can and should be operating multiple different programmes to attract a much broader demographic, creating long-term stability for the business.

"No matter what the trends are in the industry, we will then have a solid base of members from all different groups, so we’ll be much more future-proofed than boutiques specialising in one discipline."

Matthews added that, alongside the diversification of the offer, BMF is actively looking to franchise the concept – and has already come up with a number of different models to test out.

"The current 120 existing park locations are owned and operated by BMF, but we’re now moving into franchising.

"Traditionally, BMF has involved an instructor turning up at the park with a backpack or van full of kit – but there’s no reason to limit it to this," he said.

"Our instant vision was to install BMF containers all over the world: shipping containers that open up for a class, with all the equipment inside that you’re going to need to create an outdoor group training studio, whether that’s on a rooftop in China or in a central London location. We also envisaged a third option: an indoor model that could be a standalone studio or a club-in-club concept.

"We’ve now developed these three models, all of which have military themes.

"The licensed physical trainer – the guy in the park with the backpack or van – we’re calling our ‘Deployed Training Camp’. Containers are ‘Base Training Camps’ and the indoor facilities are called ‘Headquarters’.

"Base Training Camps and Headquarters each occupy 3,000sq ft and cater for 50 participants, and it’s here, in these more controlled environments, that we’ll be launching our XERT, Strong and Wild programmes. It will be with this model – an authentic military fitness offering in an indoor environment – that we will aim to compete in the boutique market."

The company has now launched a pilot programme to assess how it will proceed with franchising.

"The franchise model is currently being tested inside Oxygen Freejumping in Leeds: it had some under-utilised space and put in a BMF studio to cater for parents while their kids were busy bouncing on the trampolines," Matthews said.

"We’ll test the franchise model in the UK and then roll it out internationally.

"Within the UK, we’ll aim to own and operate the cities and then franchise in smaller towns and other areas; we picture a situation whereby a franchisee might take on one indoor or container site and then operate multiple parks around that same area.

"Internationally, we can probably expand even faster. China is a market we’re looking at closely, because Bear is incredibly popular there; we expect to predominantly open standalone indoor studios in China due to the environment in the cities. We also see a lot of potential in the US, India and the Middle East, as well as some European markets."

• To read a full interview with Matthews, click here for the September issue of HCM magazine.



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