Fitness First eyes takeover of California Wow's space at Siam Paragon
Fitness First (Thailand)'s prospects look to be in the ascendancy after the woes befalling California Wow Xperience in Thailand, with the company reportedly planning to take over California Wow's former space at Siam Paragon this year.Under its plan to expand business, Fitness First - the country's largest fitness-club operator - will take over the property at the luxury shopping complex once California Wow's rental contract ends, according to a source in the industry.
Several of California Wow's fitness centres in Bangkok have been shut down after a bankruptcy lawsuit.
Members at its Chiang Mai branch face a similar situation to their Bang-kok counterparts after Central-Plaza Chiangmai Airport informed them that all utilities at the club would be suspended, effective from yesterday.
A retail source said the space formerly leased by California Wow at Siam Paragon shopping centre would be converted into Fitness First Platinum.
However, executives at Fitness First (Thailand) and Siam Paragon could not be reached reach for comment on the matter yesterday.
In a previous interview, Mark Buchanan, managing director of Fitness First (Thailand), said the company had earmarked Bt1.5 |billion to establish 15 new clubs in |the Kingdom over the next five |years.
He described Thailand as one of the fastest-growing markets for the Fitness First group in terms of profits and branch expansion, despite the global economic downturn.
Also, there is plenty of room to grow as only 2 per cent of the population use fitness-club services.
The company is looking at setting up small clubs of about 1,000 to 1,500 square metres, targeting small communities in high-density areas of Bangkok with easy access to the mass-transit system.
Each of the projects is targeted to break even within four years, Buchanan said.
Fitness First currently operates 23 clubs in Thailand.
Meanwhile, Surasak Kongpanya, director of California Wow Xperience, once a popular chain of fitness clubs, confirmed that the company had already ended its contract with Siam Paragon.
It also informed its members that all operations at the Siam Paragon branch had ceased from December 31, he said.
He declined, however, to provide any further details or reasons for the change.
After the Siam Paragon closure, the company has suggested to its members, who number about 140,000, that they work out at its Esplanade branch on Ratchada-phisek Road, Surasak said.