Before the name David Lloyd became synonymous with gyms, the founder of the leisure clubs was a well-known tennis player, captaining the British Davis Cup team in the 1970s and 1980s.

The Essex-born entrepreneur opened the first David Lloyd Leisure club in 1982, with the aim of providing a family-orientated high-quality fitness and leisure facility, which was different to traditional gyms because it put an emphasis on racquet sports.

In 1995, when 18 David Lloyd Leisure clubs had been established, Whitbread PLC acquired the company for £182m and incorporated it into its Restaurants and Leisure Division.

In 1999, Lloyd’s son Scott established Next Generation Clubs, starting with 15 centres.

Whitbread ran more than 50 David Lloyd Leisure (DLL) clubs in the UK and Northern Ireland with additional centres in Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium. However, seeing a poor financial return from the centres, Whitbread sold the company to London and Regional Properties and Bank of Scotland for £925m in 2007.

The Lloyd family maintained a strong connection with the business, as London and Regional Properties, which already owned and operated Next Generation Clubs, merged the businesses under the Next Generation Clubs’ management team led by Scott Lloyd, to form the David Lloyd Leisure Group.

On 5 September 2013 London & Regional Properties agreed to sell David Lloyd Leisure to TDR Capital for £750m. The group retains the David Lloyd Leisure name to this day.

Key achievements

  • The David Lloyd Group now includes 89 UK and European David Lloyd Leisure Clubs, two exclusive Harbour Clubs and five David Lloyd Studios and a membership of around 440,000.
  • In 1965 Lloyd won both singles and doubles titles at Junior Wimbledon and the following year was runner up in the junior singles.
  • For a short time he was chairman of Hull City A.F.C. and Hull F.C.

Lessons for your store

  1. Capitalise on what you know – Lloyd looked at how he could incorporate his tennis knowledge into a business.
  1. Find a gap in the market – Lloyd introduced family-oriented, racquet sport-focused gyms, which were new to the market.
  1. Look at the bigger picture – by joining Whitbread and then TDR, Lloyd’s gym brand has grown to almost 90 centres.