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NH-based Planet Fitness to find out if investors are 'judgement-free'

By DAVE SOLOMON
New Hampshire Union Leader

May 26. 2015 8:28PM
Planet Fitness CEO Chris Rondeau stands next to a list of locations the Newington-based company opened in 2012. Planet Fitness has filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering of stock. (FILE PHOTO)

NEWINGTON — Planet Fitness, known for its “judgement free zone” and low prices, is about to go public.

The company founded in Dover announced Tuesday that it has submitted a draft registration form with the Securities and Exchange Commission relating to an initial public offering of Class A common stock.

The number of shares to be offered and the price range have not yet been determined. The initial public offering is expected after the SEC completes its review process, subject to market and other conditions.

Reuters reported in February that the company has been preparing for an initial public offering that could value it at more than $2 billion, including debt, according to people familiar with the matter.

Planet Fitness, which is majority owned by buyout firm TSG Consumer Partners, reportedly interviewed investment banks to hire underwriters for the IPO that will likely come in the second half of the year, according to Reuters, whose sources asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential.

Planet Fitness and TSG did not respond to requests for comment.

The company, with corporate headquarters in Newington, has more than 900 locations throughout the United States, the majority of which are franchised. It now has more than 6 million members who pay just $10 per month for its cheapest package.

With its basic amenities and no-frills approach, the chain caters to first-time or occasional gym members rather than fitness fanatics, and is featured on the popular TV show “The Biggest Loser.”

TSG made an undisclosed investment in Planet Fitness in 2013.

Planet Fitness founders Mike and Mark Grondahl purchased a failing Gold’s Gym in Dover in the summer of 1992. The next year, they hired Chris Rondeau, a recent University of New Hampshire graduate who rose through the ranks to become a partner in 2003.

In January, 2013, after a majority stake in the franchising company was purchased by TSG, the Grondahl brothers stepped down from day-to-day operations, and Rondeau was named CEO. Along with the Grondahls, he was a driving force behind the 20-year evolution of one of the best-known national brands to originate in New Hampshire.

In a 2013 interview with the Union Leader, Rondeau said the partnership with TSG marked a turning point for the company.

“It allows us to grow more strategically, with better brain power and more depth in the senior organization,” he said. “They’ve done this before. They’ve grown much larger companies than ours. We’ve done well to get to more than 600 units, but what do we have to put in place to get to 1,000 or 2,000? I’d rather know now, than figure it out along the way.”


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