Inverclyde Leisure

– the Art of the Possible

A long-term partnership between Inverclyde Leisure and Alliance Leisure has resulted in a 75 per cent increase in income and a 51 per cent rise in membership.

Formed in 2001, the trust delivers leisure, cultural and community activities across Inverclyde on behalf of Inverclyde Council, including 10 leisure centres.

The trust operates in areas of high deprivation as well as affluent wards, and since 2014 has developed a diversification strategy to appeal to all sectors of the local market. This includes implementing premier, budget, CrossFit and ladies-only fitness facilities, as well as children’s active play and café models to ensure the trust meets the demands and expectations of its customers.

This has enabled Inverclyde Leisure (IL) to have a clear marketing strategy, creating sub brands of IL Fitness Plus+, IL Fitness for Less, IL CrossFit, IL Express Ladies Fitness and Children’s Soft Play. Today, the trust serves approximately 80,000 active members.

Alternative leisure provision

Alliance Leisure first started working with Inverclyde Leisure in 2014 when the company was appointed as Development Partner to identify opportunities within the trust’s portfolio to meet the needs of all residents. 

Ravenscraig Activity Centre was the first site identified for redevelopment.  Opened in 1984, the dry-side centre had been well used in the past but changing user habits and expectations combined with good quality competing provision in the education sector meant that supply now exceeded demand and the facility was running at a deficit of £65,000.

The options appraisal showed there was a real need for physical activity, health and fitness provision in the area. Alliance Leisure identified a new mix of facilities that would match that need and subsequently delivered these as part of a £1.2 million project. Ravenscraig Activity Centre was transformed with the introduction of a low cost gym; soft play facility; XHeight Climb; F&B provision, including party rooms; and a Proud to Serve Costa Coffee cafe. Upgrades were also made to front of house, services and changing facilities.

Since the investment, Inverclyde Leisure has seen membership increase by over 3,000 per cent, membership usage rise by over 1,000 per cent and direct debit income grow resultantly.

Understanding community needs

Inverclyde Leisure was keen to replicate the success of Ravenscraig Activity Centre elsewhere in its portfolio and so in continuation of the Development Partnership worked with Alliance Leisure again to update the Lady Octavia Sports Centre. Opened in 1993 with a gym, sports hall and all weather pitches, the centre is located in a deprived area with high levels of unemployment.

Studies highlighted a need to drive physical activity at Lady Octavia Sports Centre. Alliance Leisure didn’t want to simply replicate the offer at nearby Ravenscraig, so the team looked instead at how the two sites could complement each other.

The 16-station gym was modernised and extended to 60 stations and relaunched as a Fitness for Less offering membership from £9.99 per month for unlimited access. The changing areas were refreshed and the team created a more welcoming reception area.

The £500,000 investment has resulted in a 570 per cent increase in fitness memberships.

The Art of the Possible

Boglestone Activity Centre, the latest site to be regenerated under the Inverclyde Leisure and Alliance Leisure partnership, completed in June of this year.

The centre has been completely transformed with the introduction of a large Fitness for Less gym and a spacious children’s soft play area alongside an adrenaline play frame featuring a sports zone with a basketball and sports pitch area. A Proud to Serve Costa Coffee cafe was also included in the refurbishment project totalling £1m.

Once again, the project has generated impressive returns. A few months following its completion and the site reported over 450 per cent increase in memberships to the centre.

Alliance Leisure is now working with Inverclyde Leisure on the next exciting phase of their long-term partnership. Currently going through planning, this fourth project proposes a new-build indoor tennis centre at Rankin Park, featuring three courts, a gym, toddler play area and café pod housed next to an existing pavilion.

Overall, Inverclyde Leisure’s net income from 2013-2019 has increased by a staggering 75 per cent, while membership has grown by 51 per cent over the same period.  

We have something for everyone and to suit all budgets. For example, our Fitness for Less gyms are attracting people who couldn't afford our traditional gyms and allow us to engage with new audiences. We are investing in our facilities even though we have declining income from our management fee. We need to offset this decline and working with Alliance Leisure has helped to increase sustainable participation and income.
Kieron Vango
CEO, Inverclyde Leisure.
The first action we took was to analyse whether the business was performing to its full potential. Where performance had potential for improvement, we set about implementing a strategy which would transform the facilities to positively impact the community. When you walked around the site, you could see it was tired and as it was costing a subsidy there were genuine fears that the site could close. The normal thing to do with a facility that's costing money and not producing outputs is to consider closure, but we looked for alternatives. We focused on understanding the business and identifying opportunities to improve performance. We also studied drivers for physical activity and identified local health needs, all of which helped us to generate the product.
James Foley
Commercial Director, Alliance Leisure

Vital Statistics

Ravenscraig Activity Centre

  • Member Club Live: Increase – 3348%
  • Member Usage: Increase – 1048%
  • DD Income: Increase – 1233%

Lady Octavia Sports Centre

  • Member Club Live: Increase – 570%
  • Member Usage: Increase – 57%
  • DD Income: Increase – 176%

Boglestone Activity Centre

  • Member Club Live: Increase – 458%
  • Member Usage: Increase – 76%
  • DD Income: Increase – 316%

Overall net income growth

2013-2019: 75% increase

Overall membership growth

2013-2019: 51% increase

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