28 December 2021
By Tom Collins
UBX currently targeting between 3-5 training sites in Cork
Specialist investment and franchise operator business, Empowered Brands – which is behind the successful existing chain, “énergie fitness”, which already has one club in Midleton, Cork – is now partnering with UBX Training, a unique Australian boxing fitness concept, to launch the chain in Ireland.
Empowered Brands is a specialist investment and franchise operator, focused exclusively on the health, fitness and wellness sector. The business partners with innovative, entrepreneur-led brands, providing the means to scale them quickly, through master franchise agreements, investment and well-established sector networks and expertise. Its existing flagship brand, énergie Fitness, is one of the fastest growing fitness businesses in Ireland, with 14 clubs and 15,000 members – a growth of 25% vs. last year.
UBX Training is a fast-growing fitness business co-founded by four-time world boxing champion, Danny Green, alongside Australian fitness and tech entrepreneur, Tim West. It first opened in Australia in 2016 and has since expanded rapidly, enjoying five years of continuous growth, with 92 clubs now open across Australia, New Zealand and Singapore
The concept was launched to disrupt the fitness market – re-imagining both boxing and group fitness more broadly. Inspired by Danny Green’s methodology, the training is non-contact and focuses on a mixture of bagwork, padwork and strength training across 12 rounds.
The focus is on accessibility for members. The workout aims to remove the intimidation often associated with a pure, contact boxing experience and is suitable for individuals of any gender, age and ability. Its flexible start time model also means maximum convenience for members. There are no timetables or start times – a new round starts every 3 minutes, so participants can arrive whenever they choose, select an available station and get started.
UBX also operates an online offering, “Train On-Demand”, which was launched in March 2020. Over the last 18 months, development of this product has continued with the inclusion of nutrition, education and mindset advice, turning the offer into a hybrid one.
The deal will see Empowered Brands invest the equivalent of over €50 million in the roll out across Ireland and the UK. The equivalent of over €30 million of this will be made available as loan financing, to help individual franchisees cover initial set-up costs. An investment of just over €200,000 will be required to open and operate a single UBX Training unit under the franchising model.
Taken together, the investment reflects Empowered Brands’ confidence in the UBX concept, long-term vision and its resilience through any future Covid-related disruption. It also represents Empowered Brands’ wider commitment to supporting the health and fitness sector to continue to rebuild and thrive post-pandemic.
Empowered Brands is backed by RM Funds, an alternative asset management business. Founded in 2010, the firm manages capital on behalf of institutional investors, multi-asset allocators, family offices and retail investors. Since inception the business has transacted in excess of £50 billion of assets, and advised and or originated, structured and managed over £1.5bn of sterling assets and over €700m in European assets.
John Jempson, CFO at Empowered Brands, commented:
“UBX Training is an innovative, entrepreneur-led concept and we are excited to work with the team – with whom we see strong cultural alignment – to bring it to Ireland, where demand for accessible health and fitness is strong. The boutique fitness market here presents significant opportunities for growth.
“As part of our investment, we are setting aside a sum to directly fund future franchisees’ start-up costs. Whilst the fitness sector has remained resilient and bounced back well post-lockdowns, access to traditional forms of lending remains impacted, and we will look to fill this gap. The investment reflects our strong confidence in the UBX concept.
“We foresee strong interest in our franchise offering from three key groups: personal trainers looking to take the step up into bricks and mortar, existing fitness businesses looking to diversify their portfolios, as well as ‘corporate refugees’ – individuals who might be leaving the workforce and rethinking their career path. UBX units are small and with our support, represent a low cost of entry to the fitness market.”
“We are confident the concept will grow at pace here, building on the success of our existing brands.”
Tim West of UBX Training, said: “We are delighted to be working with Empowered Brands as UBX Training enters its next phase of growth.
“Since its foundation in 2016, the brand has gone from strength to strength – continuing to grow even through Covid-19 lockdowns. Ireland is a logical and exciting next step – the country has a long and proud boxing history and we see a huge opportunity to modernise and elevate boxing using our proven and innovative training model.
“We are well-positioned to capitalise on the wider interest in health and fitness post-pandemic. Covid-19 shone a light on the importance of regular exercise – for both physical and mental well-being – thereby widening our target market.
“Empowered Brands understands our vision and we believe their sector experience and deep understanding of the Irish market makes them the perfect partner for us.”