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Glasgow ‘fitness factory’ steps to the fore with £111m deal spree

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“It is a huge step up for the business but it’s not something that wasn’t planned, it’s not something that has not been carefully thought out,” Mr Weir said.

“Our strategy was always to build our network of partners, and then having looked very closely at what they were doing and how they were very synergistic with what we were doing, the decision was made to acquire all the partners we were working with having spent years understanding how they work and how we can benefit each other.”

Set up in 2016 with the launch of online fitness website TRUCONNECT, Original Fitness Factory is diversifying into multiple areas ranging from ecommerce and virtual technology to nutrition, mental health, and activewear.

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Among the companies acquired is Wolfson Brands, an end-to-end ecommerce startup that specialises in sports equipment and wellness products. That deal closed last week.

The group has also snapped up Smart Protein, which develops food replacement products, and Virtual Run, a digital events platform that allows users to compete in races remotely. Together with Cool Events, the others include yoga studio franchise TruFusion, sustainable lifestyle apparel brand Niyama Sol, employees wellbeing platform Elf at Work, and military fitness programme Battle Ready 360.

Original Fit Factory’s largest shareholder is Mike Borden, co-founder and former chief executive of US-based Switch Communications. Among its other backers is Jonathan Miller, the former chief executive of AOL, who has joined the company as group chairman.

“It’s a really exciting new chapter for the business in building a community that’s more accessible and innovative than ever before,” said Mr Miller, who first invested in the Scottish business in January 2019. “Whether it’s wellness content, physical experiences, or our products spanning nutrition and activewear, we want to ensure we are putting unrivalled options in reach for consumers.

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“From a heightened appreciation towards the importance of mental wellbeing to an increasingly hybrid work model, we are expanding and curating our ecosystem to provide accessible products and services that meet the needs of ever-evolving lifestyles, learning from the needs of society.”

Mr Weir said with Wolfson Brands the group now has access to more than 10 million customers in 100 countries, with significant scope for expansion. It currently employs approximately 480 in the UK, the US and the Middle East.

“We are a proud Scottish company, our roots are here and we’re excited at the opportunity to grow an international business in Scotland,” he said.

Mr Weir launched TRUCONNECT after several years of working in the fitness industry, including spells with Energie Fitness and David Lloyd Leisure.

“I was involved in the group group growth of a health club chain, I advised health club chains around the world, I worked in marketing in health clubs, and I was involved with some gym equipment companies, all of it culminating in me realising that I was spending my life focusing on the 10 per cent of the population that go to the gym, whereas it would be nice to focus on the other 90% that don’t,” he said.

He added: “The plan was always to work with growing technologies to take something online myself. My wife [was] very into online fitness and I felt there was a gap in the market. The opportunity came around and I decided that I was going to take the jump and set up my own, what was, an online fitness website.”

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