Drive to attract women boosts Clubhaus profits

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THE EFFORTS of Clubhaus, the quoted golf and healthclub operator, to woo women into the traditionally male bastion of the golf club have helped it lift half-year sales and pre-tax profits up over a third.

Memberships at its health clubs, all of which are attached to its golf courses, more than doubled from 2,400 in June last year to 5,200 today. The company aims to persuade its core male golfing clients to bring their partners and families with them to their courses, some of which contain saunas, gyms and swimming pools.

Charlie Parker, the chief executive, said he was taken aback by the success of the opening in June of the healthclub at its top-of the range Castle Royle course, where a year's golf costs pounds 7,000. "It's just gone off the planet," he said.

While Castle Royle is atypical in its wealthy suburban catchment area, a Clubhaus spokesman said the group expected to replicate its success. "The ladies and children will be attracted by the pool and the gym. Then might see the golf course and say, that looks nice."

Meanwhile, Mr Parker challenged PGA European Tour Courses, its smaller quoted rival, to prove that the bid it rejected last month had undervalued the business. Clubhaus has declined to reveal details of the offer.

"It's up to PGA now to demonstrate to shareholders why the business is worth more than our indicative offer," he said. However, he said a deal with PGA was still possible, and any tie-up would have to be on a friendly basis. Neither of the groups' advisers had been in contact since the middle of last month, he added. He said he had been unable to identify any deals at the right price in the last year because wealthy individuals were paying over the odds to acquire favourite local courses.

Investment, page 19