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Citing ‘prolonged challenges’ of COVID, Evolution Wellness liquidates Fitness First’s Hong Kong operations

Citing ‘prolonged challenges’ of COVID, Evolution Wellness liquidates Fitness First’s Hong Kong operations
March 17, 2022

Fitness First is to close its eight clubs in Hong Kong, with liquidators appointed to wind up the business.

With gyms in the administrative region having been closed since January following the latest in a series of pandemic lockdown orders from the Hong Kong Government, a notice posted as a default message on the group’s official website on Wednesday advised that Evolution Wellness Hong Kong would cease all operations and enter liquidation.

The notice stated “(we) will cease all operations with effect from today, 16 March, and begin a liquidation process. The prolonged challenges in not being able to operate our fitness centres have led us down this path. 

“Over the past months, the management team, alongside our parent company and shareholders, have explored and exhausted all avenues in the pursuit of maintaining business operations. Regrettably, we have not been successful.”

Internally, according to media reports in Hong Kong, Fitness First had advised on Monday that all employees would have their contracts terminated. It has been estimated about 300 staff and coaches worked for the chain.

The current closures, resulting from the fifth wave of infections in the administrative region, follow fitness centres having been unable to operate over 162 days in the first four waves of the pandemic between March 2020 and February 2021.

With Hong Kong’s Goji Studios having also ceased operations last year, the closure is a significant one, although Fitness First says cardholders will be able to transfer the remaining cash value of their memberships to PURE Fitness and PURE yoga.

Founded in the UK in 1993, Fitness First grew to operate more than 350 clubs worldwide in 17 countries before being divided across different continental licences.

In 2017, Celebrity Fitness and Fitness First Asia merged to create Evolution Wellness, one of the largest fitness club networks in Asia.

On Tuesday, Hong Kong’s Customs and Excise Department said it had been advised of a number of membership-related complaints.

Click here to visit the Fitness First Hong Kong website.

Images: Fitness First in Hong Kong's Hopewell Centre (top) and the notice of the closure as posted on the Fitness First Hong Kong website and Facebook page (below).

About the author

Nigel Benton

Co-owner / Publisher, Australasian Leisure Management

Nigel Benton is the co-owner and publisher of Australasian Leisure Management, Australia and New Zealand’s only magazine for professionals in all areas of the leisure industry. Having established the magazine in 1997, shortly after his relocation to Australia, he has managed its readership rising to over 11,500 and its acceptance as the industry journal for professionals in aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues.

As of 2020, he has launched the new Asian Leisure Business website.

Among a range of published works and features, his comments on a Blog (blogspot) from 2007 to 2011, when this website went live in its current form, may be interesting to reflect back on.

Click here to connect with him via LinkedIn.

Read more from this author

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