Destinations

Branson to expand Virgin Active empire

AAP

Billionaire businessman Richard Branson is planning a multimillion-dollar expansion of his health club empire in Australia.

The Virgin Active founder plans to invest as much as $200 million to more than triple the number of health clubs over the next three years.

Sir Richard made the announcement while touring the Virgin Active club in Collins Street in Melbourne on Saturday.

“The reason we’re confident we can do another 20 to 30 clubs in Australia over the next three years or so is the amount of approaches we’re getting from landlords,” Sir Richard said.

The clubs cost $7 million to $8 million each, and Sir Richard said now is the right time to be investing.

“The Australian dollar is quite low, so if you’re using money from overseas to come and invest in Australia, it’s a great time to do it,” he said.

“And then, through investments like this, the Australian dollar will start getting strong again.”

The clubs have been designed to have something for everyone – from free weights and machines, to classes, swimming pools and saunas.

They are the kind of gyms Sir Richard said he likes to use, and does use.

Keeping fit is the key to managing his busy life, he said.

“I have a pretty hectic schedule; the only way I can survive that schedule is to keep fit,” he said.

The Virgin Active expansion takes in changes in the broader Asia Pacific market, including new clubs in Singapore and Thailand and potential new locations.

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