Getting in shape for growth

Barclays is helping PureGym’s growth by spending time with the team to understand the ambitions of the company. 

Find out how we could support your business.

We meet Humphrey Cobbold, CEO and Alex Wood, CFO, to hear how PureGym continues to innovate and find new ways to grow the business. 

Humphrey Cobbold, Chief Executive Officer, Pure Gym:
Pure Gym is the UK’s largest leisure and gym and fitness operator, we’ve got over two hundred gyms, over a million members.   We were founded by an entrepreneur in the north of England in 2009, who had an idea that low cost fitness could work well in this country.  

Alex Wood, Chief Financial Officer, Pure Gym:
I think the key to its success comes down to the simplicity of its business model. Pure Gym provides 99% of what our customers need for a fraction of the price of the rest of the market.

Our mission is very clear, we want to inspire a healthier nation.  That’s what gets us up every morning. Barclays have been one of the kind of constant sources of support for Pure Gym, right since the very early days.  

Mike Delay is our relationship manager and he’s been a pretty constant feature of the relationship throughout the time. And that’s enormously important because we’ve got an individual there with, you know, great embedded knowledge and understanding of how the business works, and I think he’s come to trust us a lot as well.

Mike Delay, Relationship Director, Barclays:
We commenced a relationship with Pure Gym back in 2010 and through acquisitions of new sites and some small businesses, the business has grown phenomenally.  It’s very much UK focused at the moment but they have international aspirations and we are able to support that.

So in terms of Pure Gym’s key acquisitions, in 2015, we acquired thirty one sites from a business called LA Fitness.   And secondly, more recently, we acquired ten businesses, ah, from Soho Gyms.

Barclays support of Pure Gym I would say is threefold. One, the financing of the roll out and the growth strategy of the business over the years. Secondly, the core cash management and payments through direct debits and credit cards. And third of all, our sector involvement and expertise in the hospitality and leisure sector.

In terms of innovation, Barclays have been tremendously supportive. They’re always there to guide us on trends that they can see happening in the market, but when we come up with ideas, they’re also there to fund and support us in making them happen.  

In terms of Pure Gym’s strategy for growth, the UK property market is presenting a unique opportunity for us to scale incredibly quickly, we’re aiming to double the size of the business in the next three years and of course that needs funding.

Barclays had supported Pure Gym through multiple financings and we got to the point where we introduced colleagues from our investment bank so they could access a deeper pool of funds through the high yield bond market.

I think it would be very fair to describe the relationship between Pure Gym and Barclays as a partnership; we have a very open dialogue.

It’s a very transparent relationship, very honest and straightforward.

I take personal pride in having supported the business from six sites through to over 200 sites as of today.   I have the utmost confidence that they will deliver on their next plans and continue to grow the Pure Gym business UK and overseas.

  • Founded in 2009, PureGym is already the UK’s largest leisure, gym and fitness operator, with over two hundred gyms and over a million members*.

  • PureGym offers a simple, yet successful business model, offering a great product at an affordable price, 24/7.

  • Having banked PureGym from the early days, Barclays has been a financial partner, supporter and sounding board for the business.

It’s very obvious now that Barclays would want to support a business that’s the largest operator in the UK, but it wasn’t obvious at the start. There were many people saying the business was doomed to fail. It’s a real credit to Barclays that they saw the potential in the business, and backed it from the beginning.

Humphrey Cobbold

CEO, PureGym

Lawrence Gaston-Chaney, Director, Debt Finance, brings to life the products and services we’ve provided to support PureGym. 

Debt finances role at Barclays is to put together tailored solutions to help our clients meet their strategic objectives.  


We've worked with Pure Gym since 2010.  During that time we've supported the group with growth financing and acquisition financing.  Taking them from a small disrupter in the sector to being one of the largest UK gym operators.  From six sites to over 200 sites today.


As Pure Gym has grown so has our financing support for them and at times we've partnered with alternate providers of capital to create a financing package that's truly fit for purpose.


Where we've really enjoyed working with Pure Gym is being side by side with them along that journey.  Knowing their business model, knowing what their strategic objectives are and partnering with them to ensure we've got the right financing in place to back them every step.


Alex Wood, Chief Financial Officer, Pure Gym:

I’d describe that relationship with Barclays as incredibly supportive and collaborative. One of the key benefits as Barclays as a bank, it has a full service offering, and you always feel like you’re getting through to the experts when you need them.



When Pure Gym was acquired by Leonard Green & Partners in 2017 we introduced our investment bank colleagues who were able to underwrite 360 million high yield bond and 60 million super senior RCF to find the leverage buy out.


As Pure Gym moves internationally, Barclays are uniquely positioned to support them. We have a global footprint, we have access to private and capital markets, and we can work with them to put together the right financing package wherever it takes them.  


In summary we've been able to provide growth and acquisition financing for a range of public and private markets to ensure we're supporting Pure Gym every step of the way and that's what we as Barclays can do. 

  • To help fuel PureGym’s consistent year on year growth, Barclays has supported the coordination of core financing and a number of acquisitions, allowing PureGym to accelerate expansion into new local markets and re-invest into these sites under the PureGym brand.

  • Barclays is looking forward to continuing to support PureGym’s growth in the UK and their next strategic ambition, which is to expand internationally.

Barclays has been a very constant source of support. They’ve been involved in seven or eight different rounds of financing.

Alex Wood

CFO, PureGym

*Numbers correct 2019

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