The holidays are over, the drinks cabinet is depleted and it is early January, the time when many of us resolve to change for the better. Gym memberships shoot up and sports halls are crowded with enthusiasts determined to lose weight, get fit and develop that six-pack they have always wanted.
In February and March, attendance falls off and by April, memberships are being cancelled at pace. The pattern is not just bad news for gyms, it is also a problem for governments and health services worldwide.
According to research, around 30 per cent of the global population is physically inactive. In the UK alone, around 60 per cent of adults and one in three children are overweight and obesity is responsible for more than 30,000 deaths a year, a tragedy for loved ones and an immense cost burden on the NHS.
Triumphant: 4Global has helped bid for and run global events including the 2016 Olympics where Britain’s women’s relay team won bronze
But it does not have to be like this. A recent report suggested that encouraging the over-65s to be more active would save the health service around £12billion a year, almost 10 per cent of the annual budget. And Sport England says that every £1 spent on persuading people to exercise delivers a £4 return.
4Global helps public and private sector bodies to make physical activity more accessible and appealing to young and old, rich and poor. The company joined the stock market in November, the shares are 84p and they should increase materially as the business expands.
The company was founded in 2002 by Eloy Mazon when he was just 27. Armed with an MBA from Imperial College and a strong interest in sport, Mazon set up 4Global to help cities and other bodies to bid for, organise and benefit from major sporting events. The firm has since worked on virtually every summer and winter Olympic Games, including London, Rio and Tokyo, as well as several World Cups and other football championships.
Sometimes 4Global is involved from the beginning. Sometimes the group is brought in to manage crises. Increasingly, the firm helps cities and government bodies to ensure that games leave a lasting legacy, not just in terms of buildings and stadiums but for local people too. Much like New Year resolutions, big sporting events often spur physical activity, which equally often tails off within a few months. Mazon was keen to find out why and, after working on the London Olympics, he and his team began to accumulate data from local authorities, gyms and other sports centres showing patterns of activity, from weightlifting to cycling to Zumba classes.
Today, 4Global has amassed more than a billion individual pieces of data, mostly in the UK but also in Europe and North America. While the information is completely anonymised, it provides a clear and constantly updated picture of the types of people who are active, what they are doing, where they are doing it and when.
Critically too, the data highlights areas filled with idlers, be they senior citizens, young children or people from poorer backgrounds.
The information is valuable to public sector bodies and private companies alike and 4Global’s customers include Swim England, the Rugby Football Union, Manchester City Council and the Jamaican government, as well as several gym groups and leisure centres.
In the past few months alone, Mazon has secured a £4million contract with Sport England, a £370,000 contract with the government of Peru and a lucrative deal with the city of Los Angeles to maximise the legacy of the 2028 Olympic Games.
The company has also been commissioned by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport to assess the social impact of the Birmingham Commonwealth Games this summer, while numerous other organisations are turning to Mazon for guidance and advice.
Looking ahead, 4Global has a pipeline of contracts worth more than £100million over the next four years. The group’s data can help gyms work out where to build new facilities, it can help cities plan infrastructure that will encourage locals to exercise and help local authorities work out how best to attract older citizens and children to gyms and fitness classes.
Profits of around £325,000 are forecast for the year to March, more than tripling to £1.1million next year and soaring to more than £2million in 2024, as the group wins new deals here and overseas. Mazon owns just over half of 4Global’s shares so he is strongly motivated to deliver rewards to investors.
Midas verdict: In 2009, Eloy Mazon was struck with a vicious virus that left him in a wheelchair. Today, he is a committed runner, cyclist and swimmer with a sideline in weightlifting. His determination and drive permeate 4Global and the shares, at 84p, are a buy.
Traded on: AIM Ticker: 4GBL Contact: 4global.com or IFC Advisory on 020 3934 6630
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