Everybody Sport & Recreation and Cheshire East Council: The Best of Both Worlds

Johnson Reed
3m read

“There are a host of challenges that face local government in the 21st century: delivering services; lack of finance; managing staff; engaging citizens; forming new partnerships; and, rapidly evolving technologies and socio-economic demographics.”
-Claudia Megele, The Guardian

With the latter in mind, Cheshire East Council launched Everybody Sport and Recreation, an independent non-profit leisure trust, in 2014. Responsible for delivering leisure services across the county, the trust was launched to allow more commercial autonomy to ultimately deliver a higher-quality and more competitive service.
Credit: Keith Marriott
As part of a large CEC modernisation programme taking place, facilities at Crewe and Holmes Chapel were the first of the 15 sites to undergo transformation. Crewe Lifestyle Centre combined several existing and services across the area, as well as children’s services, adult day care services, the library and workspace for council employees, all under one roof. The development under Everybody has also allowed for a café facility to be introduced at the site, introducing additional forms of revenue and creating jobs for five more individuals.
Through a leasing agreement with Johnson Reed, both sites were kitted out with Series 7 Matrix strength and CV equipment. As well as the high-standard of the equipment, the connectivity is a huge hit with members, we’re told, allowing them to connect various fitness apps on their smartphones to the machinery, watch television as they work out, and even compete with other members!
The popularity of the Matrix equipment and the innovation of the new sites has definitely been reflected in the increase of membership numbers, with Crewe trebling their previous numbers, and Holmes Chapel increasing theirs by over 60%. Being able to operate as a separate entity to the council has allowed Everybody to determine their own niche against local competitors, combining the quality of a ‘top-end’ gym membership with reasonable membership costs only slightly higher than that of a budget gym model.
“Leasing was good way of growing and keeping reserves for the fledgling company,” Everybody’s Operations Director, Paul Winrow, tells us, “Everybody Sport and Recreation are delighted with the high standard of the facilities that we have been able to offer our users at the Crewe Lifestyle and Holmes Chapel Community Centre’s and judging by the growth in membership delivered at both of these sites it is clear that our customers have shared in this opinion.  Thanks to the support of Johnson Reed we have been able to finance in excess of 150 pieces of top of the range Matrix fitness equipment, which has been a significant factor in us exceeding against the financial and social targets detailed within our business case. One of the key components of this success was the professionalism of Johnson Reed’s Jamie Collier, who not only secured us the funding quickly and at a highly competitive rate, but who also took the time to clearly understand the nature of our business prior to taking it to prospective lenders.”
Leasing allowed them to see immediate returns on the investment, where it would have taken each site months to break even if they had paid for the equipment upfront, making the partnership a win-win!
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