Gold's Gym Sale Could Spur Investor Interest in Industry

VENICE, CA — Brockway Moran & Partners Inc., the Florida-based private equity firm that currently owns Gold's Gym, will finalize the sale of the company to TRT Holdings this month. TRT Holdings is a privately owned, diversified holding company with assets that include Omni Hotels.

Competition for the 40-year-old Gold's Gym was fierce with about 10 investment groups active in the process and four vying for the company during the last round, said Gene LaMott, CEO of Gold's Gym International.

“Those are good indicators for the industry that people from the investment community are looking to invest in the industry,” said LaMott. TRT had been looking at the sector for a couple of years prior to the opportunity with Gold's, said LaMott.

Terrell Philen, CFO of TRT Holdings, said that investors see the industry as more attractive now for several reasons. The high level of interest and competitiveness with deals related to Bally Total Fitness and Town Sports International prior to the Gold's Gym sale have helped spur interest. In addition, the number of health clubs and memberships has shown steady growth in spite of the economic cycles. Also, the general press has gotten the word out about health and obesity issues, which indicate that the industry will continue to see the steady growth of the past, he said.

LaMott said that the Gold's Gym sale is a good example of how the fitness industry is maturing and how investors are waking up to that, which will result in more dollars coming into the sector.

“The industry itself is going to benefit from this process because it got a lot of people excited about this industry,” said LaMott. “They may be excited to look at other properties.”

Still, TRT's interest right now is in Gold's Gym.

“Being the owner of Omni, we are attuned to the value of a good brand name,” said Philen. “Gold's had that. The ability to expand, grow the brand was attractive to us.”

TRT Holdings plans to continue with Brockway Moran's move to more corporate facilities, but that doesn't mean franchisees are out. Gold's Gym International expanded its corporate-owned gym footprint since Brockway Moran purchased it in 1999. The company currently owns 37 facilities and has about 513 franchised locations around the world with nearly 2.5 million members worldwide. Philen said that the company would look to open and acquire more corporate-owned facilities in the United States and continue with franchise expansion in the United States and overseas.

Philen doesn't expect management changes at Gold's Gym International.

“The best way to characterize it is to stay the course,” Philen said.

LaMott also doesn't expect drastic changes to the company.

“The plan that we established over the last five years with Brockway is the same plan we are going to continue,” LaMott said. “We'll just have a new partner with a different capital structure to allow more franchising, more branding, more advertising and marketing.”

The close of the sale will occur one week after Gold's Gym International's convention in Las Vegas July 12-15. At the convention, the company was expected to make an official announcement to the franchisees, corporate staff and manufacturers at the show, as well as introduce members of TRT Holdings to the crowd, said LaMott.

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