E2E Member Peter Roberts – How I sold my business for £600m

Serial entrepreneur Peter Roberts has over 35 years’ experience in the property and leisure industries. His most recent ground-breaking business was Pure Gym, a gym chain with no contracts, low monthly fees and flexible 24-hour opening, which he founded in 2008, revolutionising the gym industry. It is the UK’s largest operator with 220 gyms nationwide and almost 1,000,000 members. After building and scaling the business, Peter left the company when it was sold to American Private Equity for £600m+, in late 2017. He remains a non-executive director.

A qualified chartered surveyor, where he started his career, he says ‘I always tell young entrepreneurs to get a qualification, if they can, it’s handy to fall back on.’  Not that Peter needed to worry, nearly everything he has launched, has turned to gold.

The purest of entrepreneurs, his first venture, after forming the Langdale Group plc in the 80’s, was turning a caravan park into Scandinavian Style lodges in the Lake District, as he ‘knew that people wanted to upgrade from caravans.’  It also boasted a 54-bed hotel and indoor leisure centre, only the 2nd of its kind in the UK, at the time.  He went on to develop 3 resorts in the Lake District, one in Portugal and one in Spain.  In 1989, Langdale Group plc was sold to Scottish & Newcastle, yielding 65% IRR to the original shareholders, who invested £800,000 in 1980.  

Peter became a partner at Countrywide Leisure Management in 1985, which he founded to identify and develop unquoted leisure investments for both High Net Worth Individuals and Institutional Investors.  He started Lazards Leisure Venture Capital Fund, and brought Dragons Health Club to the Fund, acting as non-executive director for 7 years, when he oversaw its sale to Crown Sports.  Peter launched Luminar plc, nightclubs and bars, which he floated in 1996 and Country Style Inns, a new concept of providing restaurant quality food within a country inn, which was made public in 1995. Connecting and collaborating with a variety of businesses was at the heart of his business strategy. 

He bought, funded and developed 2 hotels in Trafford, Manchester in conjunction with Manchester United plc; which became Golden Tulip and Tulip Inn Hotels and yielded a 35% IRR over 5 years when sold to Whitbread plc. 

Peter’s passion is supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs to reach their potential ‘since I left Pure Gym I have been concentrating on investing and mentoring young entrepreneurial business.’  He has started a Children’s Gymnastic Company and is currently involved with 12 early stage businesses, cutting across many different sectors.   

Peter observes, ‘obviously the experience from all these companies in the Covid arena has varied immensely and on the whole, they have weathered the storm remarkably well.’   

He continues, ’this is where the benefit of E2E comes in, as most entrepreneurs have never seen anything like the effect from Covid or the need for them to, in many cases, replan their businesses.  E2E is particularly helpful as those behind the organisation share the experience they gained in similar times of crisis.’ 

 

Written by E2E

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