A dispute between two rival gym franchises located next door to each other in a small Tasmanian town has seen one of the companies collapse and the owner of the other get bailed out.
At the end of last month, gym F45 in Devonport, Tasmania, went into voluntary administration.
The popularity of the once-dominant F45 has struggled in recent months, following reports of a low stock price and mass market resignations, as well as problems closer to home. This included several Australian rounds to the image and dozens of sales in what was called the F45 outbreak.
Now Jason Cooper, owner of F45 Devonport, is claiming spam with rival Any Fitness gym located just 10m away, the last “nail in the coffin” for his struggling business.
Mr Cooper, 52, bought f45 Devonport in March from its previous owner, Jamie Needham, for $270,000.
But Mr Needham, 40, went on to join forces with Any Opportunity which crossed the carpark within a few months. There is no suggestion of guilt on the part of Mr. Needham.
Mr Needham categorically denied Mr Cooper’s claims, and added that the opening of Anyone Fitness in Devonport “has not affected his (Mr Cooper’s) business. They are two completely different businesses, one $10 a week 24-7 gym, no classes, one $60 a week,” he told news.com .au.
Next month, Anyone Fitness is sending group fitness classes to Devonport.
Mr Needham said he would not sell the business to start a rival gym chain across the car park. He sold it because he didn’t want to travel to Devonport and get involved in a car accident, according to him.
“I fought as hard as I could,” Mr Cooper, a dad-of-two, told news.com.au. “If I had seen it, I would have taken myself seriously in debt, so I pulled the pin.”
Mr Cooper threatened Mr Needham with legal action last year to break the terms of the contract by opening a similar business right next door.
In August last year, Mr Needham denied being involved in the Anytime Fitness franchise.
“We do not agree that we have breached the sale agreement,” he wrote in an email seen by news.com.au.
“You know what” [another business partner] and we have entered into this agreement in our capacity as fiduciaries of our parties.
“These parties do not have any involvement in the adjacent building or operation of Any Fitness.”
However, when approached by news.com.au, he said he had received bad advice from a lawyer, which is why he initially denied involvement.
Extracts from ASIC documents show Mr Needham owns a third of the franchise of a Devonport facility, which he confirmed.
Initially, he told news.com.au there were only vague plans to launch classes at any site, which would place the gym as a direct competitor to the F45.
When news.com.au told the gym, advertising classes when they launched in May, he said he was not on the day-to-day course of business and had never actually set foot in the gym as “it’s quiet”. partner”. He resides in Hobart.
In the past two weeks, four more F45 franchises known to news.com.au have gone public, adding to an already growing list.
Mr Cooper’s Devonport F45 crashed on March 24, while Baldivis, Western Australia, came into liquidation on March 21.
Then F45 Robina on the Gold Coast and F45 Rhodes in Sydney were also closed.
That number has fallen to 15 rounds since June last year.
F45, best known for its high intensity training (HIIT) classes, has almost 500 studios across Australia.
However, 10 percent of those gyms are trying to sell their business.
The F45 Devonport had been sold for some time before its owner appointed Oliver Sheahan, of the firm Sheahan Lock Partners, to restore it as administrator.
Mr Sheahan told news.com.au that F45 Devonport only appears to owe about $20,000 to creditors, with $10,000 of that owed to staff.
“My investigations will be focused on what went wrong… My understanding is that (Mr Cooper) was not interested in profit when he was involved,” Mr Sheahan said.
The administrator is still yet to determine what the fall of the gym.
Franchise tax burdens owed to the F45 capital office, which were over $3,000 per month, also added to the bad business, according to the administrator.
News.com.au contacted F45’s head office for comment but had not received a response at the time of publication.
To complicate things further, Mr Needham is actually the owner of the site where F45 and Individual Fitness operate.
It means he now owes money from the crash of the F45 in Devonport.
Mr Cooper “had to pay the pension next month now. I will give the mortgage without the money coming in,” added Mr Needham.
As the owner, he said he was first involved in helping build a fitness facility for anyone. “I became the silent partner after that,” he added.
Mr Needham continues to operate four other F45 franchises in Hobart, and as a result, he said: “It has always been in my best interests to remain successful for the F45…For the strength of the brand in Tasmania.”
Mr Cooper “was a tenant in my building so I wouldn’t get rent without profit,” he added.
Six staff have lost their jobs since the F45 Devonport layoff, including Ethan Fischer, who was one of the teachers at the gym.
The forty-two-year-old believes he owes about $9,000 in unpaid bills.
A few weeks before the fall he had handed in his resignation
Mr Fischer said that only a “handful” of past clients at Anyone Opportunity were moved by his observations.
Even the winner of the challenge of running through the club still owed his bravery.
Moving interstate last week, he said the money he had on the plan was taken from his vacation pay. Now he doesn’t know when he will get his money.
Mr Cooper claimed the F45 head office approached him about buying the Devonport franchise early last year after its owner, Mr Needham, was seriously injured in a motorbike accident.
Mr Needham said he was briefly quadriplegic, but made an amazing recovery.
He was also looking at selling the business as he no longer wanted to travel to Devonport as he was based out of Hobart.
“I had a huge accident and broke my neck. My business partner had a little boy. He needed more attention than we could give,” Mr Needham said.