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UK Leisure Centres and Swimming Pools market report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Leisure Centres and Swimming Pools market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Covered in this report

This report covers local authority-owned leisure centres and swimming pools, including facilities run on a ‘dual use’ basis (eg facilities housed within schools etc that are available for use by the public at certain times of the day or week). Market size is based on expenditure in publicly owned leisure sites.

Despite often being in direct competition with public leisure centre facilities, private health and fitness clubs are excluded from the coverage of this report, as are all other private facilities that are not open to the general public, such as those reserved for employees, or association or trade union members.

Where reference is made to data on public sports centres sourced from The Leisure Database Company, the use of the term ‘Public Sports Centre’ relates to both availability and core facilities. In terms of availability it has been refined to exclude those venues not available to the general public on a ‘pay-and-play’ basis or for club use only (usually applicable to educational-based sites).

The Leisure Database Company definition also refers specifically to a venue with one or more of the following core facilities: health and fitness, swimming pool (indoor or outdoor) or sports hall.

What you need to know

The public leisure centre and swimming pools industry is in a state of rejuvenation. Site numbers have declined over the last few years due to low-performing venues being closed. At the same time investments are being made to improve the overall standard of facilities.

Swimming remains the most popular activity that Brits take part in at leisure centres but more can be done to ensure that participation remains high. Consumers think cleanliness can be improved but many also see that facilities are improving. Operators can do more to encourage swimming participation by providing more adult- and women-only sessions.

Technology is making it easier for consumers to find out what sport and exercise facilities are available while open data is allowing operators to provide this. This should help to increase participation as nearly a third of existing/potential leisure centre visitors struggle to find this information.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Helen Fricker, a leading analyst in the Leisure sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

The public leisure centre and swimming pool industry may have to experience a short-term downfall to make a long-term gain. Investments are required to ensure the whole estate is up to the standard that consumers expect. It is important that operators stay relevant and provide users, many of whom are young, with the technology and new ways of exercising that they crave. Helen Fricker
Associate Director - Leisure

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Products covered in this Report
      • Executive Summary

          • The market
            • Decline in centre numbers sees market size drop
              • Figure 1: Forecast of leisure centre and swimming pool revenues, 2013-23
            • Companies and brands
              • In-house management continues to slip as Trusts increase share
                • Greenwich Leisure Limited remains on top
                  • Second push for wellness hubs
                    • Technology is making access simpler
                      • #LoveSwimming campaign
                        • The consumer
                          • Visitation down
                            • Figure 2: Participation in health and fitness activities, July 2017 and July 2018
                          • Potential future use dips
                            • Figure 3: Previous usage of public leisure centres and future consideration in non-users, July 2017 and July 2018
                          • Swimming remains most common activity
                            • Figure 4: Participation in leisure centre activities, July 2018
                          • Interest in activities on the rise
                            • Figure 5: Interest in leisure centre activities, July 2017 and July 2018
                          • Users looking for ways to stay active but more likely to visit with a friend
                            • Figure 6: Agreement with statements relating to staying active and leisure centre/swimming pools usage, July 2018
                          • A third struggle to find information on local sport and exercise
                            • Figure 7: Agreement with statement ‘I find it difficult to find out where to take part in sport and exercise locally’, July 2018
                          • Dedicated swim sessions most in demand but facility improvements also required
                            • Figure 8: Factors encouraging swimming participation, July 2018
                          • Positives of swimming known but confidence in ability is lacking
                            • Figure 9: Agreement with statements relating to swimming and swimming pools, July 2018
                          • Pool cleanliness an issue but facilities seen to be improving
                            • Figure 10: Agreement with statement ‘I think the standard of leisure centre/swimming pool facilities is improving’, July 2018
                          • What we think
                          • Issues and Insights

                            • How can sites with no swimming pool compete against low-cost private gyms?
                              • The facts
                                • The implications
                                  • How can more people be encouraged to swim?
                                    • The implications
                                    • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                      • Market size drops with site numbers
                                        • Decline in centre numbers driven by dry sites
                                          • Centres dependent on swimming lessons and gyms
                                            • Investment will take time to show
                                            • Market Size and Forecast

                                              • Decline in centre numbers sees market size drop
                                                • Figure 11: Leisure centre and swimming pool revenues, 2013-23
                                              • Forecast
                                                • Figure 12: Forecast of leisure centre and swimming pool revenues, 2013-23
                                              • Forecast methodology
                                              • Market Segmentation

                                                • Dry sites are drying up
                                                  • Figure 13: Leisure centres and swimming pool numbers, by type of facility, 2014-18
                                                • Revenue drops to reflect fall in site numbers
                                                  • Figure 14: Leisure centre and swimming pool revenues, by segment, 2014-18
                                              • Market Drivers

                                                • Redevelopments mean improved standards
                                                  • Push from government and governing bodies
                                                    • Operators meeting consumers’ appetite for physical activity
                                                      • Figure 15: Agreement with statement ‘I am looking for more ways to stay active than in the past’, by age and gender, July 2018
                                                  • Companies and Brands – What You Need to Know

                                                    • In-house management continues to slip as Trusts increase share
                                                      • Greenwich Leisure Limited remains on top
                                                        • Second push for wellness hubs
                                                          • Technology is making access simpler
                                                            • #LoveSwimming campaign
                                                            • Market Share

                                                              • In-house management continues to slip as Trusts increase share
                                                                • Figure 16: Leisure centre and swimming pool numbers, by operator type, 2014-18
                                                              • Greenwich Leisure Limited remains on top
                                                                • Figure 17: Leading operators of leisure centres and swimming pools, by turnover and centre numbers, July 2018
                                                            • Companies and Brands

                                                              • Greenwich Leisure Limited
                                                                • Figure 18: Greenwich Leisure Limited key financials, 2013-17
                                                              • Sports and Leisure Management Ltd
                                                                • Figure 19: Sports and Leisure Management Ltd key financials, 2013-17
                                                              • Places for People Limited
                                                                • Figure 20: Places for People Limited key financials, 2013/14-2016/17
                                                              • Fusion Lifestyle
                                                                • Figure 21: Fusion Lifestyle key financials, 2013-16
                                                              • Parkwood Leisure Limited
                                                                • Figure 22: Parkwood Leisure Limited key financials, 2014-17
                                                              • Freedom Leisure
                                                                • Serco Leisure
                                                                  • Figure 23: Serco Leisure Operating Limited key financials, 2014-17
                                                              • Launch Activity and Innovation

                                                                • Second push for wellness hubs
                                                                  • Technology is making access simpler
                                                                    • #LoveSwimming campaign
                                                                      • Addressing swimming teacher shortage
                                                                      • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                        • Visitation down
                                                                          • Potential future use dips
                                                                            • Swimming remains most common activity
                                                                              • Interest in activities on the rise
                                                                                • Users looking for ways to stay active but more likely to visit with a friend
                                                                                  • A third struggle to find information on local sport and exercise
                                                                                    • Dedicated swim sessions most in demand
                                                                                      • Pool cleanliness an issue but facilities seen to be improving
                                                                                      • Usage and Consideration

                                                                                        • Visitation down
                                                                                          • Figure 24: Participation in health and fitness activities, July 2017 and July 2018
                                                                                        • Potential future use dips
                                                                                          • Women more of a potential target than men
                                                                                            • Figure 25: Previous usage of public leisure centres and future consideration in non-users, July 2017 and July 2018
                                                                                          • Non-visitors more engaged in physical activity
                                                                                              • Figure 26: Participation in health and fitness activities, by visitation to public leisure centres and swimming pools, July 2018
                                                                                          • Participation and Interest in Leisure Centre Activities

                                                                                            • Swimming remains most common activity
                                                                                                • Figure 27: Participation in leisure centre activities, July 2018
                                                                                              • Swimming just part of exercise habits
                                                                                                • Participation more common amongst men and younger visitors
                                                                                                    • Figure 28: Participation in leisure centre activities, by age and gender, July 2018
                                                                                                  • Changes in participation levels
                                                                                                    • Appetite for fitness classes remains strong
                                                                                                        • Figure 29: Participation and interest in leisure centre activities, July 2018
                                                                                                      • Interest in activities on the rise
                                                                                                          • Figure 30: Interest in leisure centre activities, July 2017 and July 2018
                                                                                                      • Attitudes towards Exercise and Leisure Centre Usage

                                                                                                        • Users looking for more ways to stay active
                                                                                                          • Most are more likely to visit with a friend
                                                                                                            • Figure 31: Agreement with statements relating to staying active and leisure centre/swimming pools usage, July 2018
                                                                                                          • Young women who cohabit are likely to visit with friends
                                                                                                            • Figure 32: Leisure centres and swimming pools – CHAID – Tree output, July 2018
                                                                                                          • A third struggle to find information on local sport and exercise
                                                                                                            • Figure 33: Agreement with statement ‘I find it difficult to find out where to take part in sport and exercise locally’, July 2018
                                                                                                        • Frequency of Swimming

                                                                                                          • A quarter swim weekly
                                                                                                            • Figure 34: Swimming frequency at leisure centres, July 2018
                                                                                                        • Encouraging Swimming Participation

                                                                                                          • Dedicated swim sessions most in demand
                                                                                                            • Facility improvements would encourage a fifth
                                                                                                                • Figure 35: Factors encouraging swimming participation, July 2018
                                                                                                              • Younger consumers more open to encouragement
                                                                                                                  • Figure 36: Factors encouraging swimming participation, by age, July 2018
                                                                                                                • Positives of swimming known…
                                                                                                                  • …but confidence in ability is lacking
                                                                                                                      • Figure 37: Agreement with statements relating to swimming and swimming pools, July 2018
                                                                                                                    • Majority swim for fun
                                                                                                                      • Figure 38: Agreement with statement ‘I am more likely to swim for fun than for serious exercise’, July 2018
                                                                                                                  • Future Developments and Opportunities

                                                                                                                    • Pool cleanliness an issue but facilities seen to be improving
                                                                                                                        • Figure 39: Agreement with statement ‘I think the standard of leisure centre/swimming pool facilities is improving’, July 2018
                                                                                                                      • Half expect the latest technology
                                                                                                                          • Figure 40: Agreement with statements relating to technology at leisure centre/swimming pools, July 2018
                                                                                                                        • Half of visitors would buy something in an emergency
                                                                                                                          • Figure 41: Agreement with statement ‘I would buy something from a leisure centre in an emergency’, July 2018
                                                                                                                      • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

                                                                                                                          • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                            • Consumer research methodology
                                                                                                                              • Methodology
                                                                                                                                • Figure 42: Factors encouraging swimming participation, July 2018
                                                                                                                                • Figure 43: Leisure centre and swimming pool behaviours, July 2018
                                                                                                                            • Appendix – Market Size and Forecast

                                                                                                                              • Forecast methodology
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 44: Forecast of leisure centre and swimming pool revenues, 2013-23