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Retro Fitness Photo courtesy Retro Fitness.
Retro Fitness' new CEO is being tasked with growing the low-priced franchised brand.

Retro Fitness 'Orders Up' Former Starbucks Exec as CEO

Andrew Alfano was hired as CEO in mid-May. Retro Fitness founder Eric Casaburi retains a large stake in the company and a seat on the board, but he is pursuing a new business venture, he said.

Retro Fitness, Colts Neck, New Jersey, has appointed Andrew Alfano as CEO, the company announced. Alfano, who at one time was an executive for Starbucks Coffee Co., was hired in mid-May, according to Retro Fitness founder Eric Casaburi, but the company made the announcement of his hiring on July 31.

Alfano is being tasked with driving future growth and expansion of the brand, the release noted.

Retro Fitness has more than 150 gyms open or under development in 15 states and more than 400,000 members, according to the media release. In 2017, the company had 155 clubs open and was on target to have 250 clubs open by 2019, according to a March 2017 media release from the company.

Casaburi, who founded the company 15 years ago, remains a large shareholder in the brand and remains on the board, he told Club Industry in an email, but he has moved on to develop other concepts that he is passionate about related to his “lifelong love of health, fitness and quality longevity.”  

Prior to joining Retro Fitness, Alfano was president and COO of The Learning Experience, a franchise academy of early education. During his tenure, the company more than doubled its center count, achieved record revenue and began plans for European expansion, according to the release.

Prior to The Learning Experience, Alfano led major markets as senior vice president for Starbucks, where he was accountable for more than $3.5 billion in revenue. Under his leadership, the international coffee brand saw record growth and revenue in high-profile markets such as Chicago, Boston and the flagship market of New York. He was also a member of the team that helped lead the U.S. business out of the company's downturn in 2008.

This isn’t the first time Retro Fitness has turned to a former Starbuck’s executive for its C-suite. In June 2017, the company hired Mike Rogers as its COO. Rogers had worked for Starbucks for 15 years, holding several roles, including director of franchise/license store operations. But Rogers left Retro Fitness within a few months, becoming COO of Scooter’s Coffee in October 2017.  

“I love to build brands,” Alfano said in the media release. “Retro Fitness has all the characteristics of what I love – a compelling value proposition, strong franchisee base and a brand following with consumers ripe for growth and expansion. By offering members everything they love about a big box gym and bundling it with personalized group classes, niche workout experiences and personal training, Retro Fitness has great potential for its next phase of growth.”

Ted Kovas, chairman of Retro Fitness, said: “Andrew joins Retro Fitness during a pivotal time in the company’s maturity. With his vast leadership experience and proven track record in rapid growth and brand building, he’s exactly what we need to take Retro into the future.”

Casaburi said he will soon announce a new anti-aging brand that he and his wife recently collaborated on. In the February 2019 Club Industry Podcast, Casaburi spoke of his infatuation with biohacking. (Listen to the podcast here.)

“One of the things that I think is really overlooked is the whole nutrition, recovery and all these other things that are happening in our bodies at the biochemical level, so, you know, people understanding their own blood work, and really what does and doesn't work,” he said in the podcast. “I think that the industry needs to kind of get into that arena and be competitive in the sense that they need to be good at it, and we're not good at it today. No one in the business is really good at it today. It’s a need.”

Despite his new venture, Casaburi looked back on his time as leader of Retro Fitness with fondness.

“As you know, Retro Fitness has a special place in my heart,” Casaburi wrote. “I will always look back fondly on my Retro years, as I grew and expanded the footprint and business with impressive multiples year after year due to the great business built with so many wonderful franchisees and vendors. I truly enjoyed the journey with them immensely.”  

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