Internationalisation of the health club industry : theory, practice and context
The leisure industry has been one of the fastest growing industries in Britain (Grade, 1998), and in the year 2000 accounted for approximately 10% of Britain's gross domestic product (LeisureWeek, 2000a). Health clubs have been one of the fastest developing business sectors within the leisure industry (Mintel, 1999), and there is predicted to be plenty of scope for future growth (Mintel, 2001). The health club sector has evolved greatly since its inception, with developments including consolidation, diversification, bi-polarisation and market segmentation. One of the most recent trends in the sector has been intenationalisation, with fifteen British companies now having a presence overseas. This research seeks to analyse the process by which the British health club sector has developed from being purely domestic based to having significant overseas investment. A number of stages within that process are identified including the motives to internationalise, the choice of country, the mode of entry utilised and the management and co-ordination of overseas activities. One of the key objectives of this research is to determine if a holistic view of internationalisation is appropriate, or even plausible for the health club sector. The research suggests that the influence of environmental and company-factors results in a company's initial decision to internationalise, with certain 'determinants' regulating which companies actually invest overseas. A number of ownershipspecific factors are identified that establish which companies might be able to compete effectively overseas. The process of internationalisation. is then analysed and a number of factors established which influence the companies' choice of country to invest in, the mode of entry and the manner in which the overseas investments are managed.