International health club, gym and spa chain Virgin Active has today announced the appointment of Robert Cook as UK managing director, with effect from 20 June.
Cook has led the development of a number of lifestyle hotel brands in the UK and Europe, having spent nine years as chief executive of critically acclaimed brands Malmaison and Hotel Du Vin. He subsequently held senior executive positions as chief executive of De Vere Hotels Resorts and Village Urban Resorts, and chief operating officer at Macdonald Hotels and Resorts.
Cook will draw on his experience in the luxury consumer market in the UK and Europe to help grow Virgin Active's business, particularly as it looks to upgrade more of its London clubs into its high-end Collection portfolio. It has 11 Collection sites in the UK, mainly in and around London, but through upgrades and new openings aims to have more than 20 in 18 months' time.
The appointment follows an announcement two days ago that Virgin Active had agreed the sale of a third of its UK estate Nuffield Health in a bid to revamp its gyms. The 35 clubs are being sold for a sum believed to be about £80m.
Chief executive of Virgin Active Group Paul Woolf commented: "Robert has stand-out experience for the role, having run a number of renowned luxury hotel groups. He brings significant operational experience, a natural customer and people-focused leadership style, together with a fresh perspective that will help us set a new benchmark for the sector in the UK.
"He joins at a very exciting time for the business as we accelerate our strategy to focus on prime clubs in key metropolitan areas, organised around three core proposition pillars: high-end Collection clubs, big family clubs and racquets clubs."
Cook said: "This is a hugely exciting time in the evolution of the brand, which was a key influence in my decision to join Paul and the team. I firmly believe my many years leading some of the best known UK lifestyle brands will help me to add real value to the next step of Virgin Active's journey."
Among his achievements, Cook has most recently been invited to join the Worshipful Company of Innholders as a Master Innholder.
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