“At least we have a date.” Under the cover since the end of September, the sports halls finally know when they can reopen: June 9, as announced by Emmanuel Macron in his deconfinement plan in four stages. A new one “Neither good nor bad” for Guillaume Le Floch. This manager of a gym in Epinay-sur-Seine (Seine-Saint-Denis) is relieved to be able to resume soon. The eight months of vacuum will still leave traces for the industry, which hopes above all that members will quickly return to the room.
“People have become so used to no longer consuming, no longer going to restaurants, no longer having leisure, that we are in doubt. Will they succeed in reinvesting theaters as before the Covid? ” asks Guillaume Le Floch. Same question for Sébastien Rozier, manager of three rooms in Perpignan and two structures in Ajaccio attached to the Fitness Park brand, who points to a timing that is not really ideal: “We will reopen during a summer period which is not the most prolific in terms of subscriptions.”
The month of beating before the reopening will leave the sector “The time to prepare to open in the best conditions”, even if the industry has long been ready to welcome the public. The High Council of Public Health (HCSP) had even issued a favorable opinion about the protocols proposed by the industry on October 20. “We now expect the government to encourage the French, in the messages it will send, to trust us on the protocols that we will apply strictly to show that we are a rigorous profession. and serious “, wishes Guillaume Le Floch.
“The snake that bites its tail”
Even if the professionals find all their members, the reopening will not erase the financial worries of each other. “The future looks dark enough for us”, prophesies Sébastien Rozier, who knows that theaters will quickly be cornered financially. He outlines what is likely to happen in early June: “All our donors will be waiting for us in front of our clubs, with a lot of vehemence and determination. Unfortunately, we haven’t had a turnover for almost a year so they will have to show themselves to be intelligent and virtuous, because it is obvious that we will not be able to pay everyone at once. . “
Blame it on these eight months of closure straddling between late 2020 and early 2021, where the industry has only survived, with no horizon of reopening. A first recovery date had been set for January 20. Then nothing. To fill the growing financial chasm, maintained by very large charges, the State has initiated some aid. “Marketing announcements”, sweeps Sébastien Rozier. The solidarity fund, distributed every month, actually turns out to be “Clearly insufficient. It only covers a small part of our expenses ”.
When to the decree published in March and intended to support entrepreneurs by taking between 70% and 90% of fixed costs, “To claim it, it’s complicated, you really have to be in great difficulty”. Guillaume Le Floch abounds: “Many rooms do not meet these criteria. You must already be eligible for the solidarity fund. Except that some companies that are not eligible for the solidarity fund are eligible to cover fixed costs. It’s a bit like the snake biting its tail. “
“Tidal wave of liquidations”
Manager of the Gigafit space in Calais-Coquelles (Pas-de-Calais), Martine Bossaert sums up the paradox that has animated much of the industry since Thursday: “We’re happy to reopen, but that’s the start of trouble.” As soon as the announcements made by the President were announced, the phone calls rang out. “Our franchisor, whom we haven’t seen for several months, called us to pay our royalty for the month of May”, continues the one whose club opened only very recently, in June 2019. As such, he finds himself excluded from the decree on the support of fixed costs. “An aberration”, for Martine Bossaert, who must also deal with a solidarity fund at a discount. She hopes to be “Accompanied by the State, otherwise we will not hold out. Until September, it will be complicated ”.
Ideally, Sébastien Rozier would like support from the executive “until the end of the year. If he lets go of us too quickly and too soon, there will be a tidal wave of liquidations and bankruptcies. It has already started ”. Since the start of the epidemic, between 15% and 18% of fitness clubs have closed across the country (around 1,000 structures). A part that could climb “up to 30% six months after reopening ”, Sébastien Rozier believes: “We will need adapted support plans.”