A £1.5m project to refurbish facilities at Birchwood Leisure Centre gets underway this month. The scheme, designed and delivered by Alliance Leisure, will upgrade the tired centre with a host of new facilities to meet the demands of existing users and drive growth.

Operated by Active Nation on behalf of City of Lincoln Council since 2007, the centre has also begun to outgrow its facilities with overcrowding in the gym and studio space unable to accommodate the expanding programme of classes.

The improvement programme, funded by City Of Lincoln Council, includes a new gym which increases the number of stations from 30 to 100 with new equipment, a larger free weights area and small group training space. It also includes the region’s first fully immersive group cycling studio from Les Mills with a cinema-scale screen and sound system.

A new soft play area and XHeight Adventure Climbing facility will allow the centre to increase its exercise offerings for children and expand its party packages giving it greater reach in the family market, while the Shapemaster power-assisted exercise studio, the city’s first, provides an opportunity to develop its work in rehabilitation, exercise referral and care for older people.

A new Costa ‘Proud to Serve’ café along with a new display area for the local RAF 50 & 61 Squadron Association memorabilia completes the refurbishment project, which Active Nation believes will increase its membership base from 1,000 to more than 2,000.

“The redevelopment gives us an opportunity to appeal to a new market of users who can’t fulfil their activity needs with the current facilities. The Birchwood community has had to travel outside of its immediate catchment for any activities beyond a basic fitness provision, but they will soon have a first class exercise experience with activities appealing to all age groups right on their doorstep,” says Mark Learnihan, Business Development & Partnership Director at Active Nation.

Tom Fairey, Senior Business Development Manager at Alliance Leisure, says: “This investment by the City of Lincoln will create a modern, affordable and sustainable leisure centre that will bring innovative new health and leisure facilities to a wider group of users from the local community and will save money for the council and taxpayer in the long term.”

Councillor Donald Nannestad, Deputy Leader of City of Lincoln Council and Portfolio Holder for Health and Recreational Services, said: “The modernised leisure centre will provide fantastic new facilities for Lincoln, and offer something for everyone all under one roof, creating more opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to get active.

“This is a significant investment by the city council in its aim to bring health benefits and opportunities to our residents and other leisure centre users. It’s brilliant to see work begin on site to deliver these exciting improvements.”


An innovative marketing campaign has helped Leeds City Council to conquer low cost competition boosting membership by a staggering 2,000 members.

The council have partnered with Alliance Leisure’s client support team after 14 budget gyms opened in the city, posing a big threat to the success of the council’s 16 leisure sites.

Launched in January 2017, the ‘We Are Family’ campaign was designed around the council’s brand values and wide offering for local families. Alliance Leisure adopted a multi-channel marketing approach to the campaign, utilising both offline and digital channels.

Tim Quirke, marketing manager for Active Leeds, says: “Our partnership with Alliance Leisure has enabled us to run a city-wide campaign targeting likely users of the leisure centres without stretching the limited resources available in the leisure marketing team. Alliance’s support and coaching has been invaluable in enabling these campaigns to be so successful.”

“For each campaign we use online advertising on channels such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to target customers in the local community served by each leisure centre. We also use search advertising on Google Adwords and YouTube to promote the campaign messages in addition to sending specific email and SMS messages to previous members or casual users of each centre. Coupled with other more traditional channels, this strategy ensures we target individuals located around each leisure centres and maximise the return on investment,” explains Paul Woodford, Director of Marketing and Partnership at Alliance Leisure.

To support the campaign, Alliance also provided training for over 600 members of staff. This ranged from management workshops focused on the sales process, coaching staff and monitoring performance to group training with frontline staff covering customer service, enquiry handling and up-selling techniques.

“The training has been superb. It’s really helped to unite the team and ensure continuity of messaging and process across our entire leisure portfolio,” says Quirke. “The campaign theme has also been very well received by the community, hitting home the message that what differentiates us from low cost operators is the sense of community and belonging. We Are Family is all about promoting a supportive, caring, inclusive environment where we all pull together to maximise the potential of each and every individual.”

The response to the digital advertising has seen three-quarters of a million people living in Leeds exposed to some form of online campaign advertising since January. This has generated more than 3,500 leads for the leisure centres.

Membership has grown from 17,500 at the start of the campaign to the current membership of 19,500 with sales up by more than 60 per cent some months.

Such has been the success of the campaign that it has been extended beyond the initial New Year period to front the introduction of single activity membership options, lower membership prices and the growth in the ‘Leeds Fitness Family’. Using the tagline ‘Our Family Just Got Bigger’ Active Leeds is positive this will be their most successful year on record.


Alliance Leisure has made a raft of new appointments across its business development team to support increasing demand for new leisure developments across the UK.

This growth follows Alliance Leisure’s appointment as Leisure Development Partner to Denbighshire County Council’s new UK Leisure Framework. Launched in February, the Framework makes the development of public sector leisure facilities development more efficient and affordable, and has already resulted in a number of significant new contract wins for Alliance Leisure.

To accommodate this increase in new business, James Foley has been appointed to the new position of Commercial Director. James joined Alliance Leisure in 2012 as Business Development Manager of the North. Prior to this appointment, James enjoyed a 20-year career in leisure specialising in facility development, company strategy, operational management and marketing. In his new role, James will oversee the delivery of new projects.

Joining James on the senior management team are Tom Fairey and Julia Goddard. Both have been promoted to Senior Business Development Manager in recognition of their valuable contribution to the business. The senior team will continue to work with the growing portfolio of public sector partners to regenerate leisure provision across the UK.

Alliance Leisure has also introduced three new Business Development Managers. Ruth Doyle has 20 years’ account management and business development experience in the property sector, while Will Gardner, previously Account Manager at Alliance Leisure, and Gillian Dunster, formerly Partnerships Manager at Alliance Leisure, also join team. Finally, Jeremy Bradbury joins the company as Business Support Manager following his former role as Business Development Manager with 1Life.

Sarah Watts, Founder and CEO at Alliance Leisure, says: “In order to continue to meet the needs of our growing portfolio of public sector clients and achieve our ambitious business growth objectives, it has become necessary to expand the senior team. Our aim is always to promote from within where possible so I am really pleased that we have been able to offer new challenges to our existing, loyal and dedicated team members. I am excited to welcome the newcomers, all of whom I have no doubt will add huge value and experience. These are indeed exciting times and I am really looking forward to seeing what we can achieve together over the next few months.”

Alliance Leisure was recently awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award by ukactive at the annual FLAME Awards, recognising the huge contribution the company has made over the last decade to getting more people, more active more often.



New 3G Pitches for St Asaph Leisure Centre

The completion of new 3G pitches at St Asaph Leisure Centre marks the first development completed under the UK Leisure Framework.  Completed on-time and under-budget the £1/4m investment sees the local school gain first-class facilities that can be used by all the community.  St Asaph Leisure Centre is operated by Denbighshire County Council and this project is one of many currently being looked at by Alliance Leisure.  For updates on the Rhyl Waterpark development please click here.


Alliance Leisure win ukactive Flame awardIn official recognition of the huge contribution Alliance Leisure has made to getting more people, more active, more often, the private leisure development company has been presented with the Supplier of the Year’s Outstanding Achievement award by the physical activity sector’s trade association.

The award presentation was made at the annual ukactive FLAME Awards, attended by more than 1,000 employers and suppliers in the physical activity sector.

On collecting the award, Sarah Watts, Founder and CEO at Alliance Leisure, says: “Over the years we have worked in partnership with more than 100 public sector leisure providers to regenerate hundreds of tired and struggling leisure facilities, creating new, innovative and aspirational environments where people want to be physically active.

“In addition to encouraging more people from all aspects of the community to lead a healthy, active lifestyle, our regeneration projects offer our public sector clients new opportunities to generate significant income. We are over the moon that our work has been official recognised and look forward to many more years supporting ukactive in its ambition to get more people, more active, more often.”

Steve Ward CEO, ukactive, adds: “Alliance Leisure is a forward thinking, innovative company which continues to challenge the way the public sector caters for community leisure needs. As the need to focus more on preventative care becomes apparent, it is companies like Alliance Leisure that will ensure our leisure facilities are fit for purpose and able to play a key role in the delivery of this solution.”

The Flame Awards were a fitting finale to two days of educational conferences organised by ukactive, which offered invaluable insight, networking and discussion for all those in attendance. A packed programme for the Flame Conference included a Q&A with legendary Olympian, Jason Kenny, who spoke at length about the habits and decisions that breed success.

In addition to this recent accolade, Alliance Leisure has also recently been appointed Leisure Development Partner of the Leisure Framework launched this year by Denbighshire County Council. The Framework makes it much more efficient and affordable for public sector organisations to design, refurbish, construction, equip and develop leisure centres, theatres, play facilities, recreation facilities and sports facilities. This appointment supports Alliance Leisure’s ambition to work with public sector partners to make leisure provision affordable, accessible and inspiring for all.

Tournament Wins for Alliance Sponsored Teams

It has been a great finish to the football season for two teams sponsored by Alliance Leisure.

Berrow Juniors won the Burnbridge Wanderers Youth Football Festival as under 12s group winners.

And congratulations to Ascot United’s under 9s Royals team as they won their recent weekend tournament (led to victory by their manager and our very own Paul Woodford!)

Development Completed at Pontypool Active Living Centre

torfaenAfter the success of the Cwmbran Stadium development Torfaen Leisure Trust worked with Alliance Leisure to develop and invest in its leisure facility at Pontypool.

The £450k investment project was completed on time and under budget and consisted of:

– Refurbishment of the fitness studio, including interior design and accessing the stunning views over the park
– Brand New Technogym equipment
– Creation of a spin studio
– Enhancement of the café

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