David Lloyd Leisure (DLL), Europe’s leading health and wellness group, announces the acquisition of Hamburg-based Meridian Group, which operates eight premium fitness and wellness facilities in Germany. DLL, a portfolio company of TDR Capital, plans to invest over €20 million to further develop Meridian’s clubs into world-class fitness, health and wellness facilities. The British leisure group acquired its first German club in Bad Homburg in 2018. The acquisition of the Meridian Group is the next step in DLL’s ambitious expansion plans to grow in the German and European wellness and fitness market.
In December 2014 Afinum, a leading German private equity investor, acquired the Meridian Group, to further strengthen the company’s market position as the leading German premium fitness and wellness club operator and to accompany the upcoming management transition program. Carlsquare already advised Leo Eckstein in 2014 in finding a new sparring partner by pitching the idea to Afinum. They have now sold their stake to DLL, whose financial strength and industry expertise will guide the Meridian through the next growth phase.
Leo Eckstein has successfully led the Meridian Group for 20 years and has also been a co-owner since his management buy-out in 2007 and is now also selling his shares. Eckstein (61) had already announced three years ago that he intended to handover the company into younger hands. With Christin Lüdemann (45) and André Nagel (43) this generation change has been initiated. Both now manage the operating business independently. Eckstein will continue to oversee the transition until March 2020, when he will retire from the management. He will then continue to work as a consultant at DLL’s request to support the future expansion plans.
With the sale to DLL, which is owned by investment funds managed by TDR Capital LLP, AFINUM and Eckstein expect a successful continuation of the positive development of the Meridian Group and a further expansion of its leading market position in the premium segment in Germany. DLL’s investment plans include the further development and expansion of its fitness offering (equipment and courses) and the expansion of its wellness offering and possibly even the construction of additional pools.
Glenn Earlam, DLL’s Managing Director/CEO commented, “The Meridian Group is a strong, respected and very well managed company in the German fitness and wellness industry. The acquisition represents an important strategic move for David Lloyd Leisure. We have ambitious plans to continue to invest in and develop the clubs. We are looking forward to meeting the Meridian members and the Meridian team to share our vision for the future. There is a high demand for first-class spa and fitness clubs in Germany, which is an attractive market to expand in as well as to roll-out the David Lloyd Leisure concept across Germany”.
Leo Eckstein, former managing shareholder of Meridian commented: “Carlsquare was our partner of choice, because of its connection to Meridian as well as its local presence in Hamburg and Berlin. Carlsquare has supported us in all steps of the process and helped us to get the deal done in a very efficient manner.”
“We appointed Carlsquare as our exit advisor due to its strong mid-market experience and competitive sell-side capabilities. Carlsquare has done an excellent job and we were very satisfied with the handling of the exit process.” says Burkhard von Wangenheim, Afinum.
Michael Moritz, Managing Partner Carlsquare, about the transaction: “We are very happy we were able to support our long-term client Afinum during another milestone transaction. This transaction represents another landmark in our Private Equity sell-side coverage and proofs our strong know-how in executing competitive auction sell-side processes in a professional environment.”
Carlsquare already successfully advised Afinum on the acquisition of Meridian Spa & Fitness Deutschland GmbH in 2014 and has now again supported the group in its next growth step as their exclusive financial advisor.