17 Sep 2019 Spa Business: uniting the world of wellness
 
 
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Health Club Management
2019 issue 8

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Spa Business - A true partnership

India

A true partnership


Partnering with established local chain, Talwalkars, David Lloyd Leisure is set to take its luxury, family-oriented clubs to India, with the first location opening in Pune this summer. Steph Eaves spoke to Bruce Gardner and Prashant Talwalkar to find out more

Steph Eaves, Health Club Management and Sports Management
Bruce Gardner hopes this new venture in India will pave the way for further international expansion
The DLT club will bring together fitness, sport and leisure

Bruce Gardner
New clubs director, David Lloyd Leisure

How long has an India offering been in the works?
We’ve been planning our entry into the Indian market for around six years. We decided to go ahead with it now, because the partnership with Talwalkars was a great fit. We spent a lot of time researching the market to ensure the business would work and found the best way to approach it was with an excellent partnership.

How was Talwalkars the right fit?
Talwalkars was looking to expand its portfolio from solely having inner-city gyms to having a broader health club offering. The partnership works well, as both companies have roots in the family market and the business approach is similar. The opportunity was also perfect as it came about at a time when we were seeking international expansion.

What considerations did you have to take into account about the Indian market?
There’s been a lot to consider when embarking on the newest venture for the company. Our unique offering at David Lloyd Leisure is one where friends and families spend quality time together, whether having a family swim, enjoying a meal or a social event such as a quiz night. This fits very well with the Indian leisure market, which is geared up for large social gatherings such as banqueting and conferences.
Some fitness activities are less established in India, so we’ve taken this into account when looking at what will be part of the product mix. The breadth of our offering will be unique and we feel that our wide range of racquet sports will be of particular interest – we’ll be offering badminton, squash and tennis, which fit in with the social and fitness needs of the audience.

The physical design of the facilities will be quite different from clubs in Europe, as there’s less land available, so we’re building a taller club across more floors to compensate.

How has the collaboration unfolded?
The journey together in partnership has been smooth; the Talwalkars have been very trusting of our product knowledge and experience and they’ve provided local knowledge and expertise for us on how to run a business in India.

We’ve partnered with well-known brands and suppliers and have tested various membership options, as this is something that’s different from the UK market – the norm in India is for members to opt for a longer-term membership commitment, rather than a yearly contract.

Tell us about the first club
We’re planning to open the club in the late summer – the building is now near completion.

Pune, which is around a three hour drive from Mumbai, is a growing city, with around nine million people, a large IT sector, universities and a large demographic that’s similar to other large cities where we have successful clubs. Once this location is established we plan to expand – both within the city of Pune and then in other parts of India.

We’re very excited about the club opening. By combining Talwalkars’ knowledge of the Indian health and fitness market with David Lloyd Leisure’s expertise in the design and creation of premium family-orientated clubs, the company aims to provide a new standard for clubs in India.

What will be special about it?
A stunning rooftop restaurant will feature at the top of the club – led by a top chef. The club will offer a mix similar to all of our racquets clubs – kids activities, a high-tech gym, group exercise, swimming pool, tennis and racquet sports.

How will it compare to other clubs in India?
The club will be unique within the fitness market – the first of its kind. While there are many gyms and some standalone fitness studios, we will be proudly bringing everything together for the whole family under one roof.

The leisure club will offer international standard facilities to its members. Alongside the excellent facilities will be outstanding coaching programmes for children and expertise available in every sport and fitness discipline, to help members learn to play, develop their techniques and reach their goals.

What’s your target audience in India?
The target audience is families who live within a 20 minute drive time of the club. Our current members love the relaxed, sociable feel of their clubs and we will have plenty for everyone to enjoy. Families can come to the club throughout the week, perhaps for a swim and then a tasty meal after school, or they can spend a whole day in the club on the weekend.

Tours of the club started in May and we cannot wait to open to show local residents what we have to offer.

What have been some of the challenges with starting this new venture in India?
The challenges we’ve faced have included recruiting the right team in a different culture, finding partners, including agencies and suppliers, to work with and ensuring the building completes to our standard and within health and safety regulations. It has been a learning curve with great reward.

What are your future plans when it comes to the global reach of DLL?
In addition to expansion within India, we hope this project will mark the start of further international expansion for DLL into a range of new international markets.

Prashant Talwalkar Managing director, Talwalkars Health Club Limited
Talwalkar approached DLL to suggest a joint venture

Can you give us some background on Talwalkars Better Value Fitness clubs?
The great visionary, Vishnupant Talwalkar, founded Talwalkars in 1932 and the legacy has been taken forward by the following three generations.

Madhukar Vishnupant Talwalkar, Girish Madhukar Talwalkar and Prashant Sudhakar Talwalkar were instrumental in the formation of Talwalkars Better Value Fitness Limited in 2003.

Then, following significant progress and expansion, the company got listed on the stock exchange in 2010. It gives me immense pride to say that today there are over 250 branches of TBVF across India.

After a 2018 TBVF demerger, two companies were formed – namely Talwalkars Lifestyle Limited and Talwalkars Health Club Limited. I am presently the managing director of Talwalkars Health Club Limited.

It was around six years ago that I approached David Lloyd Leisure to associate with Talwalkars in India to create a unique venture – David Lloyd Clubs Talwalkars.

Why did you decide to approach DLL at that time?
After the expansion of Talwalkars in the field of health clubs, we decided to explore the opportunity with David Lloyd Clubs. Although years of expertise have enabled us to gain a fair insight in all aspects of running a health club, we thought it wise to associate with the best in the business to help us set up our leisure clubs.

DLL not only has a prominent standing in the UK, but also a strong presence all across the European continent. The primary ethos of both Talwalkars and DLL is similar in that we both target the family market, hence there was a very organic synergy to the whole venture, which made our association very smooth and effective.

What have you learned from each other?
The collaboration has been very friendly, with equal inputs from both sides. While Talwalkars has oriented DLL in terms of Indian culture and business proceedings, DLL has brought its experience of creating high end leisure clubs. In fact, it wouldn’t be far fetched to say that someone from the UK could walk into a DLT Club and find absolutely no difference to a DLL club in the UK or Europe.

What is the current state of fitness in India?
It is rather unfortunate that India has barely 2 per cent of the population who can be termed as fitness conscious. However, the good news is that the Indian populace is getting more aware of the need to be fit and healthy and are gradually coming in to gyms and health-related facilities.

Of course, a steady shift in their financial position has also enabled a large number of Indians to join health and leisure clubs. A big advantage for a country like India as compared to other countries is the fact that we are able to sell long duration memberships – between one and 25 years – whereas other countries usually sell only limited duration memberships.

Are there any major differences in what Indians want from a fitness offering?
It would be fair to say that in the last 12 to 15 years, fitness has become more of a necessity than a luxury, considering the steady incline of stress, sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy eating habits. Meanwhile, greater awareness of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle is driving Indians to gyms and clubs. This is clearly reflected in the fact that Talwalkars health clubs has increased its presence, with 250 branches in more than 29 states and 80 cities.

The response we got in Tier Three cities has been quite an eye opener when compared to the bigger metropolitan areas.

Even the female population has broken out of its conservative shackles and women are joining health clubs in greater numbers. Satellite TV has allowed Indians to broaden their views and India is almost on a par with other countries.

Why are you opening the first DLT club in Pune?
Metro cities in India can be prohibitively expensive. With Pune being the satellite city of Mumbai, it seemed like the perfect choice of location in which to open our leisure club. Talwalkars Health Clubs already has eight branches in Pune.

Many Mumbai residents own a second home in Pune or places in and around Pune city and could well be prospective members of the new club. Unlike a health club where one spends approximately an hour a dayn at the most, a leisure club is a place where a family can spend an entire day filled with sports activities, games and a whole lot of fun.

What are your future plans for DLT clubs?
Since health and fitness is still in its infancy in India, we’re far from saturation point, which is becoming the case in some more economically advanced countries.

Given India’s massive population size, I envision seven to 10 more DLT Clubs opening over the next 10 years across India.

It’s never a good idea to sit on your laurels, however successful you might have been in the past. Aspiration and hard work can help you to achieve goals you previously thought were impossible if you’re determined.

I anticipate that this eclectic mix of Indian culture and English discipline can prove to be an extremely enriching experience for Indians in the very near future.

Women in India are embracing fitness and are joining health clubs in greater numbers, says Talwalkar photo:shutterstock

Originally published in Health Club Management 2019 issue 8

Published by The Leisure Media Company Ltd Portmill House, Portmill Lane, Hitchin, Herts SG5 1DJ. Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385 | Contact us | About us | © Cybertrek Ltd
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India
A true partnership

Partnering with established local chain, Talwalkars, David Lloyd Leisure is set to take its luxury, family-oriented clubs to India, with the first location opening in Pune this summer. Steph Eaves spoke to Bruce Gardner and Prashant Talwalkar to find out more

By Steph Eaves | Published in Health Club Management 2019 issue 8

Bruce Gardner
New clubs director, David Lloyd Leisure

How long has an India offering been in the works?
We’ve been planning our entry into the Indian market for around six years. We decided to go ahead with it now, because the partnership with Talwalkars was a great fit. We spent a lot of time researching the market to ensure the business would work and found the best way to approach it was with an excellent partnership.

How was Talwalkars the right fit?
Talwalkars was looking to expand its portfolio from solely having inner-city gyms to having a broader health club offering. The partnership works well, as both companies have roots in the family market and the business approach is similar. The opportunity was also perfect as it came about at a time when we were seeking international expansion.

What considerations did you have to take into account about the Indian market?
There’s been a lot to consider when embarking on the newest venture for the company. Our unique offering at David Lloyd Leisure is one where friends and families spend quality time together, whether having a family swim, enjoying a meal or a social event such as a quiz night. This fits very well with the Indian leisure market, which is geared up for large social gatherings such as banqueting and conferences.
Some fitness activities are less established in India, so we’ve taken this into account when looking at what will be part of the product mix. The breadth of our offering will be unique and we feel that our wide range of racquet sports will be of particular interest – we’ll be offering badminton, squash and tennis, which fit in with the social and fitness needs of the audience.

The physical design of the facilities will be quite different from clubs in Europe, as there’s less land available, so we’re building a taller club across more floors to compensate.

How has the collaboration unfolded?
The journey together in partnership has been smooth; the Talwalkars have been very trusting of our product knowledge and experience and they’ve provided local knowledge and expertise for us on how to run a business in India.

We’ve partnered with well-known brands and suppliers and have tested various membership options, as this is something that’s different from the UK market – the norm in India is for members to opt for a longer-term membership commitment, rather than a yearly contract.

Tell us about the first club
We’re planning to open the club in the late summer – the building is now near completion.

Pune, which is around a three hour drive from Mumbai, is a growing city, with around nine million people, a large IT sector, universities and a large demographic that’s similar to other large cities where we have successful clubs. Once this location is established we plan to expand – both within the city of Pune and then in other parts of India.

We’re very excited about the club opening. By combining Talwalkars’ knowledge of the Indian health and fitness market with David Lloyd Leisure’s expertise in the design and creation of premium family-orientated clubs, the company aims to provide a new standard for clubs in India.

What will be special about it?
A stunning rooftop restaurant will feature at the top of the club – led by a top chef. The club will offer a mix similar to all of our racquets clubs – kids activities, a high-tech gym, group exercise, swimming pool, tennis and racquet sports.

How will it compare to other clubs in India?
The club will be unique within the fitness market – the first of its kind. While there are many gyms and some standalone fitness studios, we will be proudly bringing everything together for the whole family under one roof.

The leisure club will offer international standard facilities to its members. Alongside the excellent facilities will be outstanding coaching programmes for children and expertise available in every sport and fitness discipline, to help members learn to play, develop their techniques and reach their goals.

What’s your target audience in India?
The target audience is families who live within a 20 minute drive time of the club. Our current members love the relaxed, sociable feel of their clubs and we will have plenty for everyone to enjoy. Families can come to the club throughout the week, perhaps for a swim and then a tasty meal after school, or they can spend a whole day in the club on the weekend.

Tours of the club started in May and we cannot wait to open to show local residents what we have to offer.

What have been some of the challenges with starting this new venture in India?
The challenges we’ve faced have included recruiting the right team in a different culture, finding partners, including agencies and suppliers, to work with and ensuring the building completes to our standard and within health and safety regulations. It has been a learning curve with great reward.

What are your future plans when it comes to the global reach of DLL?
In addition to expansion within India, we hope this project will mark the start of further international expansion for DLL into a range of new international markets.

Prashant Talwalkar Managing director, Talwalkars Health Club Limited
Talwalkar approached DLL to suggest a joint venture

Can you give us some background on Talwalkars Better Value Fitness clubs?
The great visionary, Vishnupant Talwalkar, founded Talwalkars in 1932 and the legacy has been taken forward by the following three generations.

Madhukar Vishnupant Talwalkar, Girish Madhukar Talwalkar and Prashant Sudhakar Talwalkar were instrumental in the formation of Talwalkars Better Value Fitness Limited in 2003.

Then, following significant progress and expansion, the company got listed on the stock exchange in 2010. It gives me immense pride to say that today there are over 250 branches of TBVF across India.

After a 2018 TBVF demerger, two companies were formed – namely Talwalkars Lifestyle Limited and Talwalkars Health Club Limited. I am presently the managing director of Talwalkars Health Club Limited.

It was around six years ago that I approached David Lloyd Leisure to associate with Talwalkars in India to create a unique venture – David Lloyd Clubs Talwalkars.

Why did you decide to approach DLL at that time?
After the expansion of Talwalkars in the field of health clubs, we decided to explore the opportunity with David Lloyd Clubs. Although years of expertise have enabled us to gain a fair insight in all aspects of running a health club, we thought it wise to associate with the best in the business to help us set up our leisure clubs.

DLL not only has a prominent standing in the UK, but also a strong presence all across the European continent. The primary ethos of both Talwalkars and DLL is similar in that we both target the family market, hence there was a very organic synergy to the whole venture, which made our association very smooth and effective.

What have you learned from each other?
The collaboration has been very friendly, with equal inputs from both sides. While Talwalkars has oriented DLL in terms of Indian culture and business proceedings, DLL has brought its experience of creating high end leisure clubs. In fact, it wouldn’t be far fetched to say that someone from the UK could walk into a DLT Club and find absolutely no difference to a DLL club in the UK or Europe.

What is the current state of fitness in India?
It is rather unfortunate that India has barely 2 per cent of the population who can be termed as fitness conscious. However, the good news is that the Indian populace is getting more aware of the need to be fit and healthy and are gradually coming in to gyms and health-related facilities.

Of course, a steady shift in their financial position has also enabled a large number of Indians to join health and leisure clubs. A big advantage for a country like India as compared to other countries is the fact that we are able to sell long duration memberships – between one and 25 years – whereas other countries usually sell only limited duration memberships.

Are there any major differences in what Indians want from a fitness offering?
It would be fair to say that in the last 12 to 15 years, fitness has become more of a necessity than a luxury, considering the steady incline of stress, sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy eating habits. Meanwhile, greater awareness of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle is driving Indians to gyms and clubs. This is clearly reflected in the fact that Talwalkars health clubs has increased its presence, with 250 branches in more than 29 states and 80 cities.

The response we got in Tier Three cities has been quite an eye opener when compared to the bigger metropolitan areas.

Even the female population has broken out of its conservative shackles and women are joining health clubs in greater numbers. Satellite TV has allowed Indians to broaden their views and India is almost on a par with other countries.

Why are you opening the first DLT club in Pune?
Metro cities in India can be prohibitively expensive. With Pune being the satellite city of Mumbai, it seemed like the perfect choice of location in which to open our leisure club. Talwalkars Health Clubs already has eight branches in Pune.

Many Mumbai residents own a second home in Pune or places in and around Pune city and could well be prospective members of the new club. Unlike a health club where one spends approximately an hour a dayn at the most, a leisure club is a place where a family can spend an entire day filled with sports activities, games and a whole lot of fun.

What are your future plans for DLT clubs?
Since health and fitness is still in its infancy in India, we’re far from saturation point, which is becoming the case in some more economically advanced countries.

Given India’s massive population size, I envision seven to 10 more DLT Clubs opening over the next 10 years across India.

It’s never a good idea to sit on your laurels, however successful you might have been in the past. Aspiration and hard work can help you to achieve goals you previously thought were impossible if you’re determined.

I anticipate that this eclectic mix of Indian culture and English discipline can prove to be an extremely enriching experience for Indians in the very near future.

Women in India are embracing fitness and are joining health clubs in greater numbers, says Talwalkar photo:shutterstock
The DLT club will bring together fitness, sport and leisure
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