Point gym club's future to be decided soon

By Gustav Thiel Time of article published Mar 22, 2001

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By Gustav Thiel

The future of The Point Health & Racquet Club in Green Point will be decided this weekend by the liquidators of LeisureNet, the operating company of the gymnasium chain.

The battle for The Point is being waged between Virgin Active and Sports Centre Holdings.

One of the directors of Sports Centre Holdings, Rod Mitchell, told the Cape Times that he would, in all likelihood, retain rights to operate the club.

Representatives of Virgin Active said they were also confident of taking over The Point from next month.

Virgin Active, part of the Virgin Group, acquired the equipment and staff of the liquidated holding company of the 85 Health & Racquet Clubs in South Africa, LeisureNet, for R319,6-million.

Virgin's international operations manager, Ian Burroughs, who is in the country to orchestrate the launch of their take-over of the clubs, said if they failed in their bid to run The Point, they would build a new club in the area "as soon as possible".

Mitchell's company not only owns the building at The Point, but holds a 20-year lease to run a gymnasium from the Cape Town City Council.

Although Mitchell said that LeisureNet's board, of which he was a member, should accept responsibility for the failed venture that led to its liquidation, he added that the Virgin Group had withdrawn at the last minute from a deal that could have saved LeisureNet.

Burroughs, however, said that Virgin was at no time committed to the deal with LeisureNet and holds no responsibility for the collapse.

He said about 2 000 of the 24 000 members at The Point have signed up as Virgin members. If Mitchell keeps the club, these new Virgin members would be refunded or invited to join another club.

Mitchell said that, while he held no grudges against the Virgin Group, he felt they did not understand the nature of the health club business in South Africa."I believe they have actually insulted members," he said.

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