Steve Nash Fitness World looking to sell business with goal of re-opening
VANCOUVER -- When Steve Nash Fitness World decided to shut down more than two dozens gyms across B.C. and fire 1,300 staff as the COVID-19 pandemic broke in March, Mirek Rosh watched hundreds of thousands of dollars vanish overnight.
Rosh, the owner of Original Dirt Busters Janitorial Services, a cleaning services company with over a million dollars in annual work at club locations, was caught off guard.
“Steve Nash (Fitness World) was roughly 55, 60 per cent of my entire company,” he said, and the remainder, with restaurants, soon dried up.
Suddenly, more than 90 of his employees who worked inside the fitness clubs had no jobs.
And Rosh, who has been working for the fitness giant and its predecessor for the last 25 years, was out an estimated $365,000.
In April, Steve Nash Fitness World filed for creditor protection, a legally binding process that’s overseen by a trustee that also avoids bankruptcy.
Court filings show the company owes its creditors, which include everyone from the Bank of Montreal to independent contractors like Rosh, a total of over $35 million.
In a letter to its creditors, dated April 9, Steve Nash Clubs Management wrote, in part: “Our intention with taking this step is to gain the necessary time, and flexibility to formulate a restructuring plan that will enable us to re-open our doors, and get back to the business of a healthy life, when this crisis is over.”
Records show the trustee accepting bids from qualified bidders until May 20, with a successful bid potentially selected by May 29.
Mario Mainella, the licensed insolvency trustee with The Bowra Group, who is handling the process, told CTV News the timeline has some “flexibility” but everyone is working to keep it as short as possible.
“It is too early to determine if and when a proposal is made to creditors,” Mainella wrote.
Derek Ralphs, a group fitness instructor who began working for the fitness chain’s predecessor, Fitness World, in 1998, told CTV News he’s both hopeful and skeptical.
“I’m kind of at a 50/50 sort of feeling…if another company comes in, are they going to run the same model?” Ralphs asked, and wondered if the same staff would be brought back with the same pay.
While he’s taught some yoga classes online, Ralphs says he misses his students the most. His uncertainty about the future is palpable.
“Who knows (what may happen)?” Ralphs said. “(The pandemic) has changed my life in so many ways.”
When asked what a change in ownership might mean for former employees and contractors, Steve Nash Fitness World’s lawyer Kimberley Robertson with Lawson Lundell LLP wrote: “Given that the results of the bid process are still confidential and currently under review, [Steve Nash Fitness World] is unfortunately unable to provide any comments.”
“The company looks forward to updating its family of members and employees as to the future of its operations and facilities as soon it is able to,” Robertson added.
Still, Mirek Rosh said he’s optimistic he’ll be returning to work.
And with nearly $100,000 in cleaning equipment and supplies stored across over a dozen locations, he’d like to pick up where his team left off, instead of starting over.
“I have hands, I can work, I can dig myself out of it,” he said. “Cleanliness standards will go up, so the guys like me will be in high demand.”