(Editors' Note: This story has been updated with a comment from the Gold's Gym Franchisee Association.)
Gold’s Gym International, Dallas, may soon get a new owner. TRT Holdings Inc., which has been the majority shareholder of Gold's Gym since 2004, is looking for a buyer for the brand, according to a July 20 media release from TRT Holdings and Gold’s Gym. TRT Holdings is moving out of the health club business to focus on its core business, which is Omni Hotels & Resorts, according to the release.
The announcement comes a little more than a week before Gold’s Gym holds its annual convention July 30-Aug. 1 in Las Vegas. About 1,000 people are expected at the convention, a source said. Internal communication about the sale has been sent to employees and franchisees, according to the source.
TRT Holdings had received interest from companies about purchasing the brand in the past, but that interest has recently spiked and now is the time to go to market, TRT Holdings President Blake Rowling said in the release.
The company was featured in a Forbes article in February sharing its efforts to rebrand itself from a company associated with body builders into a “modern fitness empire” that is focused on technology, building community through its Gold’s Studios—which offer boutique studio classes—and its digital personal training and music app called Gold’s Amp plus its work in preventative care. Some may have seen the article as a way to show off the brand and test interest from potential buyers.
Another source familiar with the company, who asked to remain anonymous, said that the buyer likely will be a private equity firm.
“Private equity is paying significant multiples in the fitness space right now, and that’s why it’s advantageous right now to sell it,” the source said. “I don’t think anyone can give them the multiples that might make them happy other than private equity. The brand itself is valuable, and it is growing overseas so fast that if somebody on the private equity side of the world sees that and realizes that it’s growing so fast overseas, they are going to look at it and [see that] it’s pretty valuable.”
Gold’s Gym CEO Brandon Bean said in the release, “The popularity and growth of the Gold's Gym brand is at an all-time high, and we're excited to work with a new ownership group to continue this momentum across all our key business units, including our company-owned gyms, domestic and international franchising operations and global licensing program.”
The right buyer has an opportunity to continue the momentum to transform the brand if they understand that momentum requires additional investment above and beyond the purchasing dollars, the source said.
“Gold’s has a huge future success [opportunity] with the right owner, someone who is willing to invest back into the business even more and who will treat it with more like a start-up mentality and who is not afraid to try things and then quickly try new things until they get it right because you have the brand behind it,” the source said. “There’s certainly an opportunity with a brand like that.”
With the right investment, Gold’s efforts with its digital coaching app could expand to offer even greater remote fitness, and investment could include even greater involvement in preventative care, the source said.
“It all comes full circle because now you are getting digital share of someone’s wallet,” the source said. “You are getting health care share of someone’s wallet, and you’re getting pieces of their wallet for their dues, their monthly dues. So you are actually getting it from all sorts of areas. That’s where the power of Gold’s can go above and beyond, but you have to go all in once you prove it works.”
Ginger Collins, executive director of the Gold’s Gym Franchisee Association (GGFA), told Club Industry in an email that the executive team at Gold's Gym has been transparent with GGFA and all stakeholders in the brand.
“Franchisees have trust and confidence that a purchase will hold great possibilities for the immediate and distant future,” she said. “In the past 2 1/2 years, a solid and faithful relationship has been built between Gold's Gym and the GGFA. We expect the new owners will have the same passion in continuing the path in growth, both domestically and internationally. We also look forward to the unceasing commitment of the current Gold's Gym executive team for years to come.”
During its partnership with TRT Holdings, Gold's Gym has grown to more than 700 locations across six continents, according to the release. TRT has retained Piper Jaffray & Co. to conduct the sales process.