Buyer sought for HK gym chain Pure Group

A fitness class at a Pure Fitness gym at Ocean Financial Centre in Raffles Place, Singapore. Hong Kong-based Pure Group's fitness centres cater to the territory's financial elite and many of the gyms occupy prime real estate like IFC Mall.
A fitness class at a Pure Fitness gym at Ocean Financial Centre in Raffles Place, Singapore. Hong Kong-based Pure Group's fitness centres cater to the territory's financial elite and many of the gyms occupy prime real estate like IFC Mall.PHOTO: PURE FITNESS

HONG KONG • Owners of Pure Group, the billionaire-backed gym chain catering to Hong Kong's financial elite, are seeking a sale that could value the company at as much as US$500 million (S$680 million), people with knowledge of the matter said.

Pure Group investors, including buyout firm Leonard Green & Partners and businessman Bruce Rockowitz, are working with an investment bank to find a buyer for a controlling stake in the Hong Kong-based company, according to the people.

It has drawn interest from Chinese private equity firms, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private.

Many of Pure Group's fitness centres occupy prime Hong Kong real estate like IFC Mall, a stone's throw away from the local headquarters of UBS Group and the stock exchange.

Founded in 2002, the group operates Pure Yoga and Pure Fitness centres in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Taipei and New York.

It also operates the rooftop RED Bar + Restaurant, which offers views of Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour, and sells its own brands of active wear and organic food. The company has more than 70,000 clients and employs 1,400 staff, its website shows.

"A buyer would care about the China expansion. The market is at a relatively early development stage - people are trying to work out more and get a healthy lifestyle," Ms Jacqueline Ko, an analyst at Kim Eng Securities (HK), said yesterday. "They can charge a premium for a famous Hong Kong brand."

Mr Rockowitz, the chief executive officer of Global Brands Group Holding and husband to Chinese pop singer Coco Lee, owns around half of Pure Group, according to the people.

He is expected to divest a significant portion of his holding in any sale, the people said.

Fung Group, the private holding company of Hong Kong billionaire brothers Victor and William Fung, is also seeking to offload its stake of about 10 per cent, said the people.

Pure Group management may keep a minority interest in the company, according to two of the people.

Hong Kong's Pure Group is not related to the UK-based chain PureGym Group.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 18, 2017, with the headline 'Buyer sought for HK gym chain Pure Group'. Print Edition | Subscribe