Setting The Standard

Swimming pools are high on the priority list at Parkwood Leisure, who strive to provide improved facilities and a wide range of programmes.
Swimming pools are high on the priority list at Parkwood Leisure, who strive to provide improved facilities and a wide range of programmes.

Working in partnership with 26 local authorities from Barry to Penzance, Parkwood Leisure is one of the UK’s leading leisure operators. Employing just over 4,000 staff and with a management portfolio that spans golf courses, theatres and outdoor educational venues as well as leisure centres, the group has developed and impressive skillset with a diverse appeal. Last year over 18 million people attended leisure centres operated by Parkwood Leisure across the country, a figure which continues to rise year on year.

“We are passionate about providing the very best service to the communities we operate in, working in partnership with residents, members and facility users to ensure that local needs are being fulfilled to the highest standards,” says Glen Hall, operations director at Parkwood Leisure. He continues: “We work closely with our clients to understand their needs and requirements, bringing some of our best activity brands and programmes into the centres such as Aquazone Swimming Lessons where we make water safety a priority in partnership with the ASA.”

The group manages 45 swimming pools across the South West, South East and Midlands on behalf of its clients, including three 50-meter international pools. One of which is Cardiff International Pool, located in the heart of Cardiff Bay, that boasts an impressive 50m Olympic swimming pool, leisure pool with fun slides, 110 station gym, sauna, steam room and spa area. However, Hengrove Leisure Centre in Bristol is Parkwood Leisure’s flagship venue boasting a 173 station gym with specialist spin studio, two separate studios, 4-court sports hall, 50m pool and teaching pool.

Last year the centre welcomed more than 564,000 visitors through its doors to use the leisure facilities. The Healthy Living Zone (HLZ) scheme also operates from Hengrove Park Leisure Centre and delivers a range of lifestyle services to help improve the health and wellbeing for all those in South Bristol. The HLZ works in close partnership with Bristol City Council, NHS Bristol and local community and voluntary organisations to deliver services such as weight management, physiotherapy and health screenings.

Joanne Martin, sales and marketing director comments: “Alongside that our mission statement is to help communities be active and healthy.  We achieve this by ensuring a wide range of programmes are offered to encompass leisure and activity but also health and wellbeing products such as our Steps to Health programme that aligns with GP referral and rehabilitation programmes.” In terms of current challenges facing leisure operators, Joanne explains that local authorities are under increased pressure to reduce leisure service costs and pass over risk to private operators in the wake of Austerity Measures: “This creates a competitive environment for operators who are forced to take on more risks and bid for new services at dangerously low margins that leave little room for error,” she says. “Over time, smaller operators will struggle to continue in this market, even larger operators may be faced with challenges should any of these risks come into fruition.”

Joanne goes on to explain that the budget gym market continues to put pricing pressures on facility operators: “At Parkwood Leisure we have found loyalty from the majority of our customers who prefer the service they receive from our Fitness Instructors and Personal Trainers who help them stay motivated and engaged.  Therefore while we may see some impact when a budget gym opens near our centres, more often than not our members will return to us.”

Earlier this year Parkwood Leisure was selected as the preferred bidder for the Design Build Operate and Maintain (DBOM) services for South Northamptonshire Council.  DBOM contracts help to maintain a high quality leisure service by designing and building new swimming pools and other leisure facilities that ensure the local community leisure provision remains in place over the next 20 years or more.

Joanne adds: “By investing capital into the service to rationalise or replace facilities that are beyond their useful life, we are able to reinvigorate the leisure service so that residents may enjoy improved facilities and a wider range of programmes. “Parkwood has extensive experience of working on DBOM contracts following previous contracts with our sister company Parkwood Project Management and we will continue to focus on these opportunities as they arise through the year.”

Parkwood Leisure Tel. 01299 253400