Life Leisure buys Stockport Sports Village to create a ‘lasting legacy’

Life Leisure Group CEO Malcolm McPhail
Life Leisure Group CEO Malcolm McPhail

Life Leisure has taken ownership of flagship facility Stockport Sports Village (SSV) to create what it claims will be “a lasting legacy for Stockport residents”.

Purchasing the multi-million-pound, 23-acre site from Woodley Sports Social Club Ltd, is the operating company’s first venture into land ownership.

Life Leisure, a charitable trust and not for profit social enterprise company that manages sports and leisure facilities including 12 in Stockport, first took over rental and management of the site in 2012.

Since then SSV, which in June 2018 was named National Leisure Centre/Health Club of the Year by health and fitness industry body ukactive, has achieved year-on-year growth, attracting over 1,000 users a day to facilities including a gym, aerobics, HIIT and dance studios, 17 3G football pitches and club standard tennis courts.

The site’s conference and banqueting facilities also support Stockport’s wider hospitality and corporate economy.

This year also saw Life Leisure invest in launching a new on-site outdoor training facility for obstacle course races (OCRs) – including its own Tough Tribe event – and an outdoor Laser Combat course.

Life Leisure Group CEO Malcolm McPhail said: “As a leisure trust, we currently face unprecedented competitive pressure at all levels, from major private chains and boutique gyms, through to budget operators.

“It’s a market environment which means you have to believe in and commit to every single business decision wholeheartedly – buying SSV is the perfect example of this.

“It’s unusual for a trust, let alone a trust of our size, to be in a position to buy such a major asset but we could see SSV’s potential and its importance to Stockport from the outset, so when the call for interested parties first went out around three years ago, we knew it was absolutely something worth pursuing.

“I also always knew this was a direction I wanted to go with Life Leisure. The amazing team here has enabled us to build a reputation for operational excellence – it’s one of the key reasons we were successful in our bid over other contenders.

“I felt the time was right to build on that reputation by becoming an owner and establishing a major anchor on our balance sheet.

“I should also say at this point that Lloyds Bank, Paul Wilcox from GDP Funding, our legal advisors DWF, and Bruce Poizer from real estate brokers Cushman and Wakefield were fantastic throughout the entire process.

“As a social enterprise everything we make goes back into the facilities and services we offer so in that sense, every single one of our members now has a piece of SSV.

“The outcome of this deal really is a lasting legacy for Stockport residents, a world-class, award-winning facility they can be proud of for years to come.”

Life Leisure recently took over The Park Leisure Centre in Barrow-in-Furness, relaunching the facility in August as ‘Life Leisure Barrow Park’.