Premium health and fitness group David Lloyd Leisure acquires Hamburg Meridian Group

David Lloyd Leisure (DLL), Europe’s leading health and wellness group* today announces that it has acquired the Hamburg Meridian Group, which operates eight health and spa clubs in Germany. It plans to invest over €20 million into further developing the clubs to offer premium health and wellness. The UK-based leisure group acquired its first German club in Bad Homburg in 2018, and this latest move is the next step in its ambitious plans to rapidly expand further into the German market and across Europe.

Founded over 35 years ago, DLL currently operates 115 clubs** in the UK, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, Ireland, and most recently in Germany. Hamburg Meridian Group‘s eight clubs comprise five located at Hamburg; Wandsbek, Am Michel, Eppendorf, Alstertal and Barmbek, plus Spandau Arcaden in Berlin, Sophienhof in Kiel and Skyline Plaza in Frankfurt.

The eight clubs currently have nearly 39,000 members between them, so this acquisition brings DLL‘s total member count to over 660,000.  DLL currently employs 8.600** team members and is listed in the UK’s top 25 big companies to work for***.

In December 2014, AF Eigenkapitalfonds für deutschen Mittelstand GmbH & Co. KG, advised by Munich-based AFINUM Management GmbH, invested in the Meridian Group with the aim of financing the construction and start-up of the new Frankfurt Skyline Plaza and Hamburg-Barmbek facilities, strengthening its position as the German market leader in the premium club segment and supporting the upcoming generational change in management. 

The successful implementation of the opening of two large premium facilities in Frankfurt and Hamburg-Barmbek was supported by the injection of growth capital. In the five years since its entry, both the Group's sales and earnings have increased significantly. AFINUM is now passing on its stake to DLL, whose financial strength and industry expertise will be used to initiate the next phase in Meridian Group’s growth. 

The managing partner Leo Eckstein, who has successfully managed the Meridian Group for 20 years and has also been co-owner since a management buy-out initiated by him at the beginning of 2007, is also selling his shares as part of this transaction. Eckstein (61) had already announced three years ago that he wanted to place the management of the company in younger hands at the age of 60 and has since then systematically trained a new, younger management team with Christin Lüdemann (45) and Andre Nagel (43), who now manage the operative business independently. Eckstein will continue to oversee the transition until March 2020, when he will retire from the management. He will then continue to act as a consultant on an ongoing basis to support DLL’s future expansion plans. 

With the sale to DLL, which is owned by investment funds managed by TDR Capital LLP, AFINUM and Eckstein expect a successful continuation of Meridian Group’s development and a further expansion of it’s leading market position in the premium segment in Germany.

Glenn Earlam, DL Chief Executive commented; “The Meridian Group is a strong and well-respected operator in the German health and fitness industry, and is a key strategic acquisition for David Lloyd Leisure. We have ambitious plans to further invest in and further develop the clubs, and look forward to meeting the Meridian members and team, and sharing our vision for the future. 

There is a high demand for premium spa and fitness clubs in Germany and so it is an attractive market for us to expand into, as has been demonstrated by the success of our first club in Bad Homburg near Frankfurt. We continue to look for further opportunities to expand the David Lloyd Leisure concept across Germany.”

Leo Eckstein, Meridian Managing Partner/CEO commented: "With AFINUM as an always responsive sparring partner with a great understanding for the needs of a medium-sized company, we have succeeded in gradually but persistently aligning our organization to new opportunities and challenges in the market. In combination with the positive effects of the successful expansion, we have significantly increased turnover, result and cash flow in recent years and hand over a very healthy and future-oriented company". 

Jochen Martin and Burkhard v. Wangenheim, partners of AFINUM commented: "Leo Eckstein has played a major role in the development of Meridian since 2000. With perseverance, high personal commitment and a clear vision of the future, he has developed the then ailing Meridian Group with three clubs and 13,000 members in 20 years with a sense of proportion, commercial prudence and active support of a long-standing team, to its current size with eight clubs and nearly 39,000 members. With the best business result so far in the 35-year history of the company, his activity as managing director and designer of the Meridian Group will soon come to an end".  

- ENDS -

    * By revenue according to Deloitte’s European Health and Fitness Market Report 2019
  ** Not including the eight clubs being acquired from Meridian
*** DLL was ranked at number 11 in The Sunday Times Top 25 Best Large Companies to work for in 2019. The list ranks the UK’s best companies to work for based on employee satisfaction.

About David Lloyd Leisure Group
Including the acquisition of Hamburg Meridian Group, the DLL Group has 123 clubs - 100 clubs in the UK and a further 23 international clubs, comprising its two brands David Lloyd Clubs and Harbour Clubs (of which there are three - Chelsea, Notting Hill and Kensington).
Across all clubs, David Lloyd Leisure has over 190 swimming pools (of which half are indoor) and offers over 13,000 exercise classes per week. Every week over 25,000 children learn to swim at David Lloyd Leisure, 16,000 children learn to play in the Tennis Stars Coaching Programme.
David Lloyd Leisure’s racquets facilities are unparalleled with over 1080 tennis courts as well as over 400 badminton and squash courts. Additional facilities include health and beauty spas, club lounges with free internet access, crèches, nurseries and specialist sports shops.  To find out more about David Lloyd Leisure visit

About Meridian Spa & Fitness 
Meridian offers its nearly 39,000 members and numerous day guests the best of fitness and wellness in a unique atmosphere at its eight clubs in Hamburg, Berlin, Kiel and Frankfurt. Since 1984, the company, which was founded in Hamburg, has been following a vision: to offer people a place where they can leave everyday stress behind and draw new energy. The philosophy "The Source of Energy" is reflected in the wide range of possibilities offered by the facilities: a varied range of Classic, Athletic and Spirit equipment, as well as first-class strength and endurance equipment and a comprehensive course programme make training an experience for everyone. The members are personally supervised by qualified trainers in order to achieve training goals together. The spacious wellness area with various saunas, pools and spacious outdoor areas provides pure relaxation. The holistic offer is rounded off by the Face & Body Day Spa with beauty treatments, massages and Ayurveda treatments. Meridian's overall concept appeals to both sports enthusiasts and city dwellers of all ages seeking relaxation.
To find out more about Meridian Spa & Fitness visit

TDR Capital is a leading European private equity firm established by Manjit Dale and Stephen Robertson in 2002. The firm manages funds with commited capital of more than €10 billion. TDR invests primarily in European medium-sized companies and supports them in the development and growth of their business. TDR Capital takes an active role in overseeing the operations of its investments, working in partnership with management through board representation and professional support.

AFINUM is an independent  investment company and specializes in investments in growth companies in the German mid-market. Besides Meridian Spa & Fitness, AFINUM also invested in the fitness chain Let's Go Fitness in Switzerland, which was also successfully sold in 2017. Current investments include Zeit für Brot - a fast-growing stationary premium organic food concept -, Ledlenser - a leading global manufacturer of high-quality LED flashlights and headlamps - and All4Golf - Germany's largest e-commerce retailer for golfing needs. AFINUM’s investment in the Meridian Group was led by the partners Jochen Martin and Burkhard v. Wangenheim.

Leo Eckstein started his career after his apprenticeship and business studies at the HypoVereinsbank Group. After completing a trainee program, he first worked as a credit analyst and later as a director of the corporate finance department in Hamburg, supporting corporate transactions. After 8 years he joined the Hamburg-based specialist mail order group HEILAND as CFO for 4 years, where he was responsible for the acquisition of several competitors, the subsequent realization of synergies and restructuring into a powerful and highly profitable group of companies. With the sale of the HEILAND Group to the American HENRY SCHEIN Group, Leo Eckstein ended his activities and from 1998 onwards he worked as an independent consultant for medium-sized companies in questions of financing, company sales (M&A) and restructuring. In this function, Eckstein joined Meridian at the beginning of 2000, initially as a consultant, and took over the management after completion of a restructuring project in early 2002. He initiated the management buy-out implemented in 2007 and since then has led the company as managing partner / CEO until today.   

Liz Bartlett
Head of PR
+44 7484 039373
[email protected]  

Meridian Spa & Fitness Deutschland GmbH
Wandsbeker Zollstraße 87-89
22041 Hamburg 
Fon 040/65 89-20 143
Fax 040/65 89-29 000
E-Mail [email protected]

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