17th July 2023

DSW Debt Advisory team help Total Fitness secure £6.5m funding for growth

Total Fitness, which operates 15 health and fitness clubs across the North of England and Wales, has secured a £6.5m loan from OakNorth Bank to refinance an existing loan facility and support the refurbishment of several of its clubs.

DSW debt advisory team helped Total Fitness secure £6.5m funding for growth
Image of Sophie Lawler, Total Fitness CEO.

Dow Schofield Watts Debt Advisory provided fundraising advice to Total Fitness on the transaction, which also includes a debt accordion to support future growth opportunities beyond its core health club business.

Founded in 1993, the Wilmslow-based business has over 93,000 members and around 600 staff. It is led by the first female CEO in the UK’s private health club sector and backed by private equity firm NorthEdge Capital.

Phil Tarimo and Owen Malton from DSW Debt Advisory helped the company to identify a range of potential lenders and choose the one most suited to its needs. Phil Tarimo said that, like other health chains, Total Fitness had been affected by Covid but quickly recovered, mainly due to management’s actions in adapting its offering and differentiating itself in the market.

“Health and well-being is now an important consideration for people of all ages, regardless of the economic climate. Total Fitness appeals to customers across different generations, from the ‘silent generation’ to Gen Alpha, and has a loyal and growing member base,” said Phil.

“We were impressed with how certain funders were happy to look ‘through the lens’ and understand the business model and that it could be part of a transformational industry change, while others were restricted by their own organisational limitations. A number of front runners emerged, but OakNorth stood out. It had the flexibility and creativity to look ‘under the bonnet’ to really understand the key drivers of the business and deliver a compelling offer.”

Sophie Lawler, CEO of Total Fitness, said the company’s ambitions expanded way beyond the typical health club model: “As a team with an exciting story and a unique strategy for the future, we have been thoughtful about the right funding partner to support us through this next chapter.

“The team at DSW deftly led us through the fundraising process to achieve a successful outcome. We really appreciated their understanding of the business and ability to get to grips with a number of complex moving parts, and their experience was evident from their assured navigation of the process and strategic counsel. We felt they were part of the team and welcomed their warm and proactive style.”

Tom Rayner, CFO of Total Fitness, commented: “This refinancing has enabled the business to invest in its future and will be the underpinning for further growth in our member base and rich, varied offering. At a time when the nation’s fitness is more important than ever, our exciting new spaces and opportunities will further strengthen our commitment to lifelong fitness.”

Stewart Haworth, Director of Debt Finance at OakNorth, said it was a testament to the management team’s skills that the company had successfully navigated the challenges of the pandemic and the current cost-of-living crisis. “The combination of the health and fitness industry’s forecasted growth with Total Fitness’ superior member proposition and well-invested sites has put the business in the perfect position to capitalise on these tailwinds,” he said.

Contact the Debt Advisory team today for any enquires.