The pandemic has rocked retail, but one sector is seeing unprecedented demand thanks to a new vision for the future of the high street and shopping centres.
Gravity, is UK's biggest name in active entertainment, provides experience-led leisure in settings that department stores and retail giants once dominated.
Fun is the word at Gravity, with thrilling multi-level e-karting, best-in-class trampoline parks, daunting high ropes and futuristic augmented reality bowling among the 30 activities now offered for franchisees.
Gravity works with the industry's most innovative designers to give each site its own identity – bringing New York's buzz or Tokyo's energy to the local high street.
Our brand appeals to families with a broad demographic that includes adult leisure, families with young children, teenagers and adult fitness. With a reach of millions, the brand is fast becoming a household name and a destination synonymous with fun.
The minimum investment is £500k for a trampoline park and £1million liquid capital for a flagship.
Gravity was founded in 2014 by Simon Whicker, Harvey Jenkinson and Michael Harrison, who shared a vision of providing safe and exciting family fun on a mass scale. Michael and Harvey remain passionately involved – having worked in every area, from front-of-house to visitor supervision – in their drive to actively support the business and franchisees.
Over the following years, two sites rapidly grew to 22 in the UK, Germany, and Saudi Arabia, where a further 14 sites are in the pipeline.
Gravity COO Michael Harrison on how finding opportunities in high footfall areas is what sets Gravity apart.
In 2017, the business formed Gravity Franchise. In the initial incubation phase, the priority was to engage with international landlords and enable partners – making it easy to access a ready-made property portfolio.
The business is backed by Guinness Asset Management and was recently listed in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 (UK's fastest-growing companies).
Gravity finds itself ready to capitalise upon this carefully built pathway for growth. Rollouts will accelerate throughout the second half of 2021.
Despite the challenges of 2020, Gravity continues to drive the agenda. Now, more than ever, customers want to create memories and indulge their sense of fun – at a time when opportunities are booming for larger spaces, increased contributions and better commercial agreements.
In 2020, disruptions, enforced site closures and product restrictions couldn't prevent the business from engaging with over 65,000 customers per month. Many sites outperformed pre-COVID-19 results.
The last 12 months have proved that the business is pandemic-proof – meaning, according to Gravity CEO Harvey Jenkinson, there has never been a better time to invest.
"We expect to execute bigger and more significant deals across the globe as larger conglomerates urgently seek to bring leisure brands into their portfolios. Gravity is uniquely placed to help reduce the risk of sole reliance on retail, food and beverage.
"In the next 12-24 months, you will see Gravity popping up in many new UK cities, as well as European destinations such as Spain, Austria, Holland and Sweden, as well as Saudi Arabia, Oman and Dubai in the Middle East.
"Big-box leisure is booming in the US, and forecasters predict that it won't be long until the trend becomes hugely influential on this side of the pond, too. At Gravity, we see ourselves as nothing short of essential for thriving real estate divisions across the world after COVID-19."
In Wandsworth, London, Gravity has seized upon an opportunity to bring a truly unique offering to the capital – and is having no problems standing out from the crowd.
Gravity Wandsworth introduces a multi-level indoor e-karting experience – with high-powered electric go-karts that race along a thrilling track themed on Japanese market streets.
There is simply no other brand able to offer this high-octane experience in a retail setting.
Upstairs, New York is the setting for 16 full-length bowling lanes with the latest immersive technology – blurring the line between physical and digital for guests. An American eatery, live music and high-end cocktail bar are proof of the brand's flexibility, as Harvey Jenkinson explains.
"This exciting four-floor entertainment hub will showcase Gravity's ability to create venues that cater to all age groups, whether that be families, friends or corporates. With the current travel uncertainty, this immersive experience will enable customers to feel like they could be in a completely different place in the world."
When Gravity first entered the market, it was rare to find contributions from real estate providers. However, in the years since, the business has been able to engage and work alongside the world's largest landlords. It's an opportunity that only exists thanks to Gravity's experience and reputation in the sector.
As well as favourable rent and rates deals, Gravity has negotiated inward investment by landlords on the majority of sites.
Prospective franchisees will also benefit from Gravity's expertise in identifying profitable sites and securing best-in-class equipment. In 2019, Gravity founder Harvey Jenkinson was appointed as Chair of the IATP and co-authored the British Standards Policy for safety and best practice in the industry.
To ensure consistent quality across Gravity's portfolio of destinations, the company employs an industry-leading equipment manufacturer with 50 years of experience. There is also an extensive suite of marketing and management tools, plus ongoing support and an active sense of community amongst franchisees.
Staff enjoy working in an energetic environment where no two working days are ever the same. Gravity provides a sector-leading training and development programme to help franchisees bring the best out of their people.