Ektimal PureGym pinpoint optimum locations for its expanding franchise gym business in Saudi Arabia and beyond
In partnership with Ektimal, Europe’s leading gym operator group is using location intelligence and insights to take the guesswork out of new location decisions. GapMaps Live enables Ektimal PureGym to make faster and more informed data-led decisions on physical locations for its low-cost, flexible gyms.
The fitness sector in Saudi Arabia has seen rapid growth in recent years, with some incumbent brands already well established. This growth has been driven by a young and growing population, increasing physical activity levels, rising affluence and improved licensing. In addition, a strategic framework called Saudi Vision 2030, recognises the need to tackle health issues across the country and includes a number of initiatives and objectives to improve health and wellbeing through greater investment in sport and fitness.
Anticipating rapid expansion in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the Middle East over the next five years, Ektimal PureGym saw the need to connect its business decision making on location sites with data to greatly improve its understanding of catchment areas and demographics. In addition, the company wanted to establish gyms in areas where there are currently no local fitness facilities. Without data-driven insights, network planning would be time-consuming and rudimentary.
To support its growth in Saudi Arabia and planned future expansion in the United Arab Emirates and the Middle East, Ektimal PureGym wanted to find a partner with proven expertise in location intelligence and, importantly, on the ground knowledge and understanding of the local area. It also had to find a company with a track record of creating high quality location intelligence data and insights in data-challenged markets and developing countries.
The company selected GapMaps Live as its intelligence platform to develop and refine its network planning strategy. Using GapMaps, it can identify optimal site locations for its gyms using validated data to remove guess work from its decision-making. In turn, the insights from the platform make it easier to complete feasibility proposals required to seek board approval for planned location investments, increasing confidence in the process and mitigating risk as the franchise grows its presence.
Visualisation of data simplifies decision-making
The GapMaps Live platform is simple to use, which means Ektimal PureGym benefits from the ability to easily group and label sites being evaluated. With the data presented visually, it makes it much easier for stakeholders to see a number of important competitor or reference brands in a particular catchment area, and make more informed decisions from a comprehensive representation of key data sources. Working with GapMaps, the team was able to access key insights on market demography datasets such as consumer demographics, population density, household income, people movement patterns, and other insights on the consuming class, all essential to deciding on an actual gym location.
More informed decision-making
Ektimal PureGym used GapMaps Live to first re-evaluate the chosen location of its first two gyms in Saudi Arabia, decisions that were validated by the platform. The company then used GapMaps Live to select two further gyms, which opened in January 2022, and continues to scale at speed with eight new gyms planned this year. GapMaps plays an essential role in pinpointing the optimum locations and can benchmark against other brands targeting similar consumers.
GapMaps continuously source, process and deliver data into the platform to Ektimal PureGym, giving the company access to a comprehensive representation of the local environment under consideration. This richness of data is essential to the detail of every single site recommended for board approval and reduce the risk and significant cost involved in putting gyms in the wrong place.
Through GapMaps Live, Ektimal PureGym has been able to show the master franchise that it can use local data to make really powerful decisions for the longevity of the brand.
Meeting local cultural requirements
Provisioning for local cultural requirements is essential for Ektimal PureGym. For example, it is necessary to have separate male and female gyms in Saudi Arabia, with a walking track and a prayer room at each location. As such, GapMaps ensures the company can better understand population demography, proximity and density of male and female residents, adding another data layer on top of publicly available government statistics.
“We deliberately didn’t pick a location simply because there was another fitness centre there. Instead, we decided to look at Saudi Arabia as a blank canvass and make our location decisions based on the data and the metrics we would need to quantify to the board that this is a location where we can hit our membership targets within a year.” Susan Turner, CEO, PureGym Middle East
Meeting future business needs
Following the success of its initial gyms in Saudi Arabia, Ektimal PureGym has ambitious expansion plans to launch 40 clubs across key cities in Saudi Arabia by the end of 2025, and will open gyms in the United Arab Emirates and other attractive markets in the Middle East.
As part of the expansion process GapMaps will continue to play an important role, providing an understanding of the characteristics in each market and gathering data that can inform the selection of future locations.
A great working partnership
GapMaps Live is used by a number of users on a regular basis within the company as feasibility proposals go through the decision making process. Since opening its gyms in Saudi Arabia, demand has been excellent and Ektimal PureGym is looking forward to continuing its partnership with GapMaps as it expands the brand in the region.
“The relationship with GapMaps is great. I can always pick up the phone and talk to Simon about our network strategy and get lots of support and help, which I find incredibly useful.” Susan Turner, CEO PureGym Middle East
GapMaps validated the selection of the first two gyms chosen and informed the chosen location for the next four gyms planned
• Faster decision making
GapMaps accelerated the decision-making process and the data being provided is an important part of the evaluation process getting board approval on the locations chosen
• Focus search efforts
GapMaps helps Ektimal PureGym deploy its resources to specific areas, rather than wasting time in locations that may not be optimum
PureGym is a leading European gym operator with 1.7 million members across approximately 500 clubs in the UK, Denmark, Switzerland and the US. Now the market leader in the UK, PureGym was launched there in 2009 where it pioneered the model for affordable, flexible, high-quality fitness clubs. It provides members with flexible, low-cost monthly memberships with no contractual commitment. Most of its gyms are open 24/7 and they all offer a full range of top-of-the-line equipment, including cardiovascular equipment, fixed-resistance and free weights, as well as instructor-led classes. Recognising the market opportunity, PureGym entered into a franchise partnership with Ektimal to create the PureGym KSA brand and bring its unique offer of low-cost, accessible, flexible fitness into the region.
Ektimal is a Saudi company that invests in the field of fitness and seeks to provide products that contribute to finding integrated solutions for individuals and companies according to the vision of integration between mind, body, and spirit.