The management team of Fitness Connection, McLean, VA, has received funding from LNK Partners, White Plains, NY, to purchase Boston-based WestView Capital Partners' share of the company, says Jeff Skeen, CEO of Fitness Connection. Skeen declined to disclose the purchase price.
LNK Partners is a private equity firm with aggregate funds of more than $800 million. Robert W. Baird & Co., a global investment bank focused on the middle market, advised Fitness Connection in the deal.
“This deal is representative of the recent acceleration in deal activity in the fitness and better-for-you food sectors,” Kurt Roth, a senior member of Baird’s consumer investment banking group, said in a press release from Baird.
Fitness Connection has 28 locations in North Carolina, Texas, and Nevada, which typically range from 35,000 to 60,000 square feet.
LNK’s investment in Fitness Connection is expected to enable the company to accelerate its expansion in existing and new markets, according to releases from both companies.
“Fitness Connection has a great business model with a highly attractive consumer value proposition,” Craig Rydin, a partner of LNK and former chairman and CEO of Yankee Candle, said in a press release from LNK Partners. “We look forward to working closely with management to accelerate the company’s expansion.”
Skeen says that during the company's partnership with WestView, the investor was instrumental in helping Fitness Connection establish an industry-leading brand, grow strategically and build a strong foundation for future growth. With the LNK partnership, Fitness Connection is well positioned to continue to grow the brand on a national basis, says Skeen, who declined to disclose which markets Fitness Connection is targeting.
“Our number one priority is opening locations in our current markets," Skeen says. "As for expansion outside of our current markets, we are evaluating a number of markets."
In addition to providing capital, LNK partners Kayvan Heravi, Craig Rydin, and David Landau will join Fitness Connection’s board of directors. LNK’s partners have operated or invested in consumer companies such as Staples, Quaker Oats, Pepsi, Gatorade, Life Time Fitness, Levi Strauss, PVH/Calvin Klein/Tommy Hilfiger, Campbell’s, Pepperidge Farm, Godiva and Yankee Candle.
In addition to Skeen, the Fitness Connection management team includes A.J. Mushtaq, chief financial officer; Dal Clayton, chief operating officer; Aaron Lieberman, chief development officer; and Josh Harwood, senior vice president of operations.
Fitness Connection combines pricing of $9.95 to $19.95 per month and no long-term contract obligations. Amenities include services such as personal training, a kids’ club, group exercise classes, a swimming pool, basketball and racquetball courts, women-only areas, a cardio movie theatre, a sauna, a steam room and tanning facilities.
Mergers, acquisitions and investment activity has remained robust in the healthy lifestyle space, according to Baird.
“The healthy lifestyle space represents tremendous growth opportunities as consumers spend increasing amounts of time and money pursuing fitness and healthy eating,” said Joe Pelligrini, managing director with Baird. “Companies operating in this sector, with strong management teams and sound business models, present an even greater opportunity. We believe the partnership between LNK and Fitness Connection will be extremely successful in seizing that opportunity and building a best-in-class organization.”