Blades boosted by health and fitness club sale – Coffer Corporate Leisure advises the purchaser

July 14, 2008

Sheffield United have announced the sale of the Thames health and fitness club.

The Championship club, with strong interests in leisure and property has sold the Thames Club at Staines in Middlesex as it looks to focus its leisure operations in the South Yorkshire area. The club has been purchased by a company funded by the Downing Protected Venture Capital Trusts.

The Blades acquired the profit-making business in March 2006 and have spent the last two years increasing its profitability by growing membership and driving other revenue streams. The sale has generated a gross profit of £0.7 million, producing a return of nearly 20%.

The club will continue to trade as The Thames Club Limited. Steve Lewis, Managing Director said “I am personally extremely pleased and excited to have secured this club. The plans we have are significant and involve investment of up to £1.5 million which I firmly believe will move the club to an even higher level in both the facilities and services currently offered”.

The club was funded by the Downing Protected Venture Capital Trusts.

Paul Beaumont, Investment Director representing Downing said: “We are delighted to be supporting Steve who will have the non executive support of Nick Taplin of the successful Cadbury House, operation in Bristol also funded by Downing. Bringing so much joint experience and enthusiasm we are confident that The Thames Club will move to something very special, possibly even part of a small chain of similar clubs.”

Sheffield United Chief Executive Jason Rockett said: “Selling Thames is a strategic and appropriate move by the club and will, in part, help underpin the continued investment in football.

“The sale has realised a significant return on our investment. Thames was part of the diversification of our-off-the-field business through leisure and property, which will now have a much greater focus on South Yorkshire.”

Mr Rockett indicated that the four star Copthorne Sheffield Hotel adjacent to the club’s Bramall Lane stadium is on schedule to open in the autumn of this year. It includes a new health club. The development comes on the heels of the opening of the club’s Junior Community Development Centre in Sheffield.

Coffer Corporate Leisure (CCL) represented Downing. CCL Director, Lawrence Telford, commented: “This was a great opportunity for Downing and Steve Lewis to acquire a rare freehold health club in a prime location and demonstrates that despite the general financial market difficulties, quality leisure assets are still very much in demand. We look forward to assisting Downing and their partners in acquiring further suitable leisure opportunities for the various Downing VCT’s.”