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PE Firm Trilantic, Planet Fitness ‘Zee Partner for Growth


With its 52 gyms in the United States and Canada, Taymax Group Holdings is already among the largest Planet Fitness franchisees in the system—and it’s poised to get even bigger.

“Planet Fitness is the clear leader in the high-value, low-price segment,” noted Grant Palmer, a partner at Trilantic North America, the private equity firm that last week acquired a majority interest in Taymax from ClearLight Partners. Trilantic, Palmer explained, had its eye on the rapidly growing fitness segment and identified Planet Fitness and Taymax as the right opportunity to “take advantage of secular tailwinds.”

Founded in 2009 with the acquisition of one club in the San Antonio market, Taymax now has 52 Planet Fitness gyms across the greater San Antonio, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Sacramento, Toronto and Ottawa markets. The group brought in private equity firm ClearLight in 2013 when it had 12 locations and though it was able to grow organically over the past five years, Taymax CEO Tim Kelleher said ClearLight didn’t have an appetite for M&A.

With Trilantic, “We seem to share a similar vision for growth and an ability to move quickly,” said Kelleher.

Palmer agreed and said they’ll look to acquire other franchisees within Planet Fitness, from those with 10 to 15 units or only a couple of locations.

“There are some single proprietors who may not have the capital to fully develop their areas,” said Palmer of potential acquisition targets. The firm also sees white space in Taymax’s five existing area development agreements, which “should allow us to more than double the current footprint.”

In addition to its scale, Trilantic also identified Taymax’s leadership as being the right fit for the firm.

“Trilantic as a firm has a real focus on partnering with founders, families and entrepreneurs,” said Palmer, noting Kelleher is a co-founder. “Taymax has built a team and structure to really support the growth to date and continued growth.

“They’ve been thoughtful about putting people in the right seats.”

Having “a lot of bench strength” has been an advantage for Taymax as it’s grown, said Kelleher. Of its 52 locations, the group has built 50 of them, learning along the way, and has two Developer of the Year titles under its belt.

“What makes us different is we live and breathe it and really own it,” said Kelleher.

The Taymax deal marks the first fitness club investment for New York-based Trilantic, which has $8.4 billion in assets, primarily in business and consumer services and energy. The firm does have investments in health and wellness, such as Sunrise Strategic Partners, which provides capital and expertise to better-for-you food and beverage brands.

Harris Williams acted as the exclusive financial advisor to Taymax on the transaction and Kirkland & Ellis LLP served as its legal advisor. Kirkland & Ellis LLP provided legal advice to Trilantic North America.

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The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Tom KaiserTom Kaiser is senior editor of Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3209, or send story ideas to tkaiser@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
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