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Debenhams to launch in-store fitness centres

British retailer, Debenhams is to trial in-store fitness centres with gym specialist Sweat! as its partner, in three of its locations.

The department store operator says the partnership, to launch early next year, will give customers more reasons to visit Debenhams stores more often and will attract a younger female base.

Founded by entrepreneur, Frank Reed, Sweat! offers an aspirational gym environment at a slight price premium to budget gyms. Facilities in the brightly branded gym space include dedicated studios for spinning and aerobics, innovative fitness programmes such as The Matrix along with a full range of free weights and Technogym equipment.

The fitness foray is part of the Debenhams Redesigned strategy to make stores a destination for social shopping.

“In Spring we detailed the Debenhams Redesigned strategy stating that we would look to work with strategic partners to deliver our plan,” explained Sergio Bucher, Debenhams CEO.

“We believe that by teaming with Sweat! we will optimise the space that is available in some of our stores whilst offering an attractive and credible leisure experience to customers. The partnership is a step closer to establishing Debenhams as a Destination for leisure experiences and gives customers more reasons to visit us more often.”

As well as the gym, Debenhams will sell products relating to health and fitness lifestyles. The relationship sees Debenhams broaden its reach to the Sweat! customer base with cross-marketing opportunities planned such as enrolling each Sweat! member to the Debenhams Beauty Club.

Frank Reed said partnering with Debenhams provides Sweat! with access to attractive locations and the opportunity to engage with the retailers established loyal customer base.

“UK gym usage is forecast to reach the 20 per cent penetration rates achieved by parts of Europe and the US by 2020 and by providing a differentiated product in a place that is convenient to customers we anticipate that we will capitalise on growth for leisure experiences,” he said.

Sweat! currently attracts 600-800 visits to each of its five gyms each day with a 55 per cent female customer base visiting gyms two or three times per week. The gyms are inclusive and welcoming environments manned by motivated and energetic teams. Sweat! is the newest gym offer from Reed who previously founded LivingWell, Virgin Active and Virgin Pulse.

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