UBX opens UK studio in mega deal with Empowered Brands

UBX opens UK studio
Master franchise agreement has ambitious goal of 250 studios in five years. (Source: Supplied)

Boxing business UBX has opened its first UK-based studio as part of a £50m deal with Empowered Brands.

The inaugural UBX site is in Media City, Manchester, in the north west of England. Franchisees Ben Waldron and James Worrall plan on opening six more gyms by the end of September. UBX Stepaside in Ireland, Bath and Sheffield, will follow with opening dates. 

The master franchise partner Empowered Brands will roll out 250 UBX sites across the UK and Ireland over the next five years.

Empowered Brands is a fitness franchise incubator

Empowered Brands is a specialist investment and franchise operator, focused exclusively on the health, fitness and wellness sector. The business acts as a fitness franchise incubator to help entrepreneur-led brands scale quickly.

Its flagship brand, eìnergie Fitness, is one of the fastest growing fitness businesses in the UK and Ireland. It has more than 80 gyms and 114,000 members with an annual network revenue of £33m ($60.8m).

Empowered Brands’ other companies include The Yard, Victus Soul and RAW. 

The investor business is backed by RM Funds, an alternative asset management business. Since launching in 2010, the firm has advised and or originated, structured and managed over £1.5bn of sterling assets and over €700m in European assets. 

John Jempson, managing director of UBX and chief financial officer at Empowered Brands, said that UBX’s flexible model presented a big opportunity to potential franchisees.

Loan financing is part of the investment

“As part of our investment, we are setting aside a sum to directly fund future franchisees’ start-up costs.”

Jempson said the funds will fill a gap left by traditional forms of lending.

It will cost about £200,000 ($370,000) to open and operate a single UBX unit under the franchising model.

In the £50m deal, £30m will be available as loan financing to help individual franchisees cover initial set-up costs.

“The investment reflects our strong confidence in the UBX concept, and we believe the target of 250 gyms will be reached well ahead of schedule,” said Jempson.

UBX opens UK studio as part of a wider expansion plan

“We are confident the concept will grow at pace here, building on the success of our existing brands.” 

UBX co-founder Tim West said there is a long and proud boxing history in the UK and Ireland.

“We see a huge opportunity to modernise and elevate boxing using our proven and innovative training model.

“Empowered Brands understands our vision and we believe their sector experience and deep understanding of the UK and Irish markets makes them the perfect partner for us.

“We’ve mapped out our road to 500 clubs. But we don’t think that’s where it ends because that’s only Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Japan, the UK, and Ireland – we haven’t even touched the States,” West said.