Can Easyjet's Stelios match Richard Branson's Virgin Active with easyGym?

Easyjet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou is making another attempt to build a worthwhile brand extension to his Easy brand with the launch of easyGym, a cut-price chain of gyms in the UK.

With everyone predicting real pain for the economy as the Government’s spending cuts and VAT rise kick in next year, it might not seem the right time to set up a business that very much relies on discretionary spending but Stelios and his partner, the private-equity backed company Fore Fitness, seem to think they can make it work.

If he does manage to challenge the leaders such as Holmes Place and Virgin Active, it will be the first time the Easy brand has been extended in a substantial fashion. Virgin has managed it with the airline and its fitness chain but the Easy name has always lacked that edge of excitement that Richard Branson has managed to build with Virgin.

Add to that Stelios’s dispute with the managers of easyJet, the airline he founded and which set the whole thing off, over their ambitious expansion plans, and it is clear that the brand name has become rather tarnished in recent years.

Still Stelios may prove us all wrong and lose a bit of weight in the process.

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About David O'Reilly

David is a former deputy editor of Campaign and writer for a number of leading titles including Management Today and the Sunday Times. He is a partner in The Editorial Partnership.