David Lloyd leisure chain acquired for £750m

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Leisure chain David Lloyd has been snapped up by a private equity firm for around £750 million amid plans to expand in Europe.

The chain of tennis-based health and fitness clubs has been acquired by TDR Capital, which plans a £50m investment programme.

David Lloyd Leisure, founded by the former Davis Cup captain, operates 81 clubs across the UK and ten on the continent.

Controlled by property group London & Regional and private equity firm Caird Capital, it was put up for sale in January in an attempt to refinance its reported £800m debt and fund expansion plans.

A number of private equity bidders are thought to have been circling the company, which has enjoyed “strong trading” this year despite the prolonged economic downturn which has squeezed gym chains.

Membership has grown 4 per cent while 5 per cent fewer members have left, the group said. It has also been opening compact high street format venues called DL Studios in urban locations where its full-size clubs would not be feasible.

Scott Lloyd, chief executive of David Lloyd Leisure (DLL), said: “I am delighted to be partnering with TDR for the next phase in DLL’s development.

“The team at TDR have an enviable track record of investing in highly successful businesses, particularly in the leisure sector and DLL and its members will see immense benefit from their experience and expertise.”

Manjit Dale of TDR Capital added: “DLL is a unique business with a market leading position and a fantastic brand.”