True Group slams doors in Malaysia, Thailand

Despite announcing expansion plans for China, Singapore-owned True Group has abruptly closed its fitness clubs in Malaysia and Thailand.

Its nearly 50,000 members in Singapore are fearing the group may take similar action on its home turf, reports The Straits Times.

Just six days ago, CEO Patrick Wee spoke about plans to open 20 clubs in China over the next three years in a deal with Hong Kong investment holding company Tongfang Kontafarma.

But on Friday, without warning, the group shut its two remaining outlets in Bangkok, and the following day closed all its True Fitness and True Spa centres in Malaysia.

Established in 2004, the True Group has 10 outlets in Singapore, including eight True Fitness centres. It also has centres in China and Taiwan.

“The Singapore, Taiwan and China partnership is a totally different legal entity from Thailand,” a company spokesman says. “The terms of the partnership are specifically to grow the businesses in Singapore, China and Taiwan. As such, the closure in Thailand will not affect the Singapore outlets or the planned expansion.

“We are a minority partner in Thailand, and the past years have proved challenging. Unfortunately the businesses are no longer financially viable because of evolving market conditions.”

True Fitness gave similar reasons on its Malaysia website, saying it was unable to refund its Malaysian customers in cash. It said arrangements had been made with Chi Fitness for customers to continue their prepaid packages, and the company was looking to make a similar arrangement for its spa customers with a “reputable” provider.

Rival chain California Fitness closed its business in Singapore last July, prompting about 600 complaints about prepaid membership fees. Its sudden closure followed a week after 12 of its gyms in Hong Kong shut because of debt.

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