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World Class banks on healthy growth

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While the overall penetration of health and wellness industry services is still low, Kent Orrgren, CEO of World Class Romania, has great confidence in the company's development prospects in Romania. In an interview with Business Arena, the Swedish manager, who has more than 28 years of experience in the international health and wellness industry, pointed out that he expected Romania's market to expand by 20-25 percent annually. Prior to joining the World Class team, in 2016, Kent Orrgren has held various management positions for leading fitness chains in Sweden, with a strong track record of successful projects. In addition, in 2010, he founded Performance Xperience Consult & Invest AB, a wellness consulting company that enables leaders to improve organizational performance through strategy, vision and expertise in the fitness industry.
In your opinion, what are the strong points that World Class Romania can rely on in developing its operations in this market and what are the challenges?
Based on my experience in the health and wellness industry, I believe there are three key strengths World Class Romania relies on in its evolution on the local market.
Firstly, there is the deep knowledge and passion of all the trainers and staff working in the company. I have worked with many expe­rienced and highly-skilled people in the past and I am happy to find here, at World Class, a very knowledgeable team with great passion, energy and care for the members’ needs.
Secondly, we have brand awareness. Being a strong, well-known brand enhances the connec­tion with our members and potential members. It supports us in sharing our values and passion for helping and educating more people to understand the benefits of an active lifestyle.  
And thirdly, we have the largest network of health and fitness clubs in Romania. Our customers have access to a wide range of premium facilities and services, close to home, close to work or both. That helps them save time, offering the proximity and convenience of living a healthy life, which is one of the top criteria people take into consideration when choosing a gym.
As no. 1 in the health and fitness market, World Class is and always has been the pioneer of the industry and, from this perspective, the greatest challenge remains to motivate more people in Romania to become more active, more often. We are the ones who inspire and the ones who open new roads to helping people make their lives better.
However, building and expanding awareness of the health benefits of regular physical activity and the consequences of inactivity is a long-term commitment. It requires a lot of support in terms of networking and facilitating partnerships between the sector, academia, governments and society, in order to identify common challenges and opportunities.
Each day we strive to take another step in helping people choose World Class as their third place away from home in order to improve their lives. Through our knowledge, our facilities, our combined expertise and effort, our network’s strength and most of all, through our people, our goal is to support our members in their journey to a healthier and more active life.

What are your priorities in terms of business development and expansion?
As our mission is to make health and fitness available to more people in Romania, all our efforts go into making this happen. Last year, we signed the first large deal in the Romanian health and fitness industry – the acquisition of Club Moving fitness chain operator.
Moreover, we are very proud to have earned the trust of more than 50.000 members who chose to join our network and maintain an active lifestyle. This is an important milestone in World Class’ evolution, which we reached at the beginning of the year.
The pace of development in the health and fitness industry is increasing with technology and we will need to adapt, in order to continue being the market leader of promoting the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. 
Adapting is essential in the health and fitness industry. And this is precisely what we always focus on, constantly improving our products and services to best respond to our members’ needs. Adjustment, improvement, and innovation have been and continue to be the key words for our evolution in the market.
Subsequently, 2017 will play a key role in identifying synergies within the network. We will focus on consolidating the growth registered in the previous year and will continue the com­pany’s strategy of organic development. For the future, I see there are great opportunities in the Romanian market for growing the network.

What is the current number of centers operated nationwide?
What new in­vest­ments have been lined up for 2017?

World Class Romania’s health and fitness network currently boasts 31 clubs nationwide, with more than 50,000 members overall.
Our business development strategy is based on three main pillars: organic development, quality at the highest standards and innovative services. We will continue to invest in the best equipment and fitness accessories, so that our members always have the best workouts. Our equipment excels through connectivity innovation, minimalist design and sustainability, and also offers maximized workout efficiency.
In parallel, we continue our investment plan to modernize the clubs. We started last year with World Class Downtown, W Le Club, and World Class Caro and continued with other centers in our network in Bucharest and outside. This is an ongoing and important process in our operational agenda.
Also, this year, we have opened a new health and fitness center in ParkLake Shopping Mall. The new club offers its members access to latest fitness equipment, an aerobic studio and one cycling studio, a special area for functi­onal fitness workouts, a pool and a dry sauna, spanning over 1,800 square meters (club and terrace overviewing the park).
As mentioned above, we see 2017 playing a key role in consolidating our network, as well as continuing the company’s strategy of organic development.

What were last year’s main achievements at World Class Romania, and what aspects of business did not yield the expected results?
2016 marked a milestone in World Class Romania’s evolution, with the acquisition of Club Moving fitness chain operator. Through this acquisition, World Class Romania added nine more clubs to its fitness network across the country, reaching a total of 28 clubs and more than 47.000 members. A thorough and well-monitored integration process followed, with a focus on care for our members and employees. Furthermore, the company also developed organically, opening two new clubs – World Class Constanta and World Class Militari (in Bucharest).
We ended last year with a turnover of around 20 million euros, increasing by more than 15 percent as compared to the previous year, maintaining our profitability.

How would you describe the general development prospects of the Romanian wellness industry?
In the last few years, we are happy to have seen a rapid development of the fitness market in Romania. Surely, compared to other markets in the region, it’s still underdeveloped when it comes to the percentage of the population that is a member of a health and fitness club.

To read the full version, see the print edition of Business Arena.

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