Bridges Ventures Investment Goes Public

On Monday November 9th, The Gym Group, a portfolio company of Bridges Ventures Sustainable Growth Fund II (Bridges II), made an initial public offering of its stock on the London Stock Exchange, at a valuation of £250million. The Gym’s shares rose to 204¼p on its first day of trading, or 5% above the 195p issuance price.

Bridges Ventures is a long-time member of CDVCA, and the CDVCA Central Fund was an early investor in Bridges II. All told, Bridges II has committed £17.5 million to The Gym Group, across multiple financing rounds. As part of this public offering, Bridges II sold about a third of its stake, retaining a 14% shareholding in the company. Based on Monday’s offer price, the fund’s investment in The Gym is currently valued at 5.8x cost.

The Gym Group – which was co-founded by Bridges alongside CEO John Treharne in 2007 – pioneered the low-cost gym concept in the UK. Offering flexible, affordable gym memberships, with two-thirds of its sites in economically challenged areas, it provides accessible exercise facilities (and jobs) to an under-served demographic. After opening its first location in Hounslow in 2008, it added 20 new locations within its first three years of operation; today it has 66 locations and over 363,000 members, a third of whom have never been members of a gym before.Between 2012 and 2014, the company’s revenue increased from £22.3m to £45.5m – a compound annual growth rate of 43% – while adjusted EBITDA more than doubled to £16.7m.

The Gym has raised £90m from the float: it plans to use £75m to pay down debt and the remainder to fund expansion. The company, which is now the only fitness chain listed on the London Stock Exchange, plans to open between 15 and 20 gyms per year in the future.

Says Bridges co-founder and managing partner Philip Newborough: “The Gym is a great illustration of Bridges’ core thesis: that positive social impact really can drive commercial success, and vice versa.”​