The buyout giant which took Boots private more than a decade ago has muscled in on the £600m-plus auction of Pure Gym, Britain’s biggest chain of health and fitness clubs.
Sky News understands that KKR is among a pack of financial investors that will table indicative offers for Pure Gym ahead of a deadline on Thursday.
The sale of Pure Gym comes a year after the company abandoned a public listing, citing difficult market conditions in the wake of the EU referendum.
Pure Gym’s main shareholder, CCMP Capital Advisors, is working with Harris Williams and Jefferies on the auction, which City sources say is likely to be wrapped up by the end of the year.
CCMP, which has controlled Pure Gym since 2013, has overseen a period of strong growth at Pure Gym, which now trades from more than 170 clubs.
Its relentless expansion comes after a period of turbulence in the UK gyms sector, with operators such as Fitness First being forced into financial restructurings and takeovers.
A successful sale of Pure Gym would crystallise a windfall for Sir Chris Hoy, the six-time Olympics gold medallist, who has a small shareholding in the business.
Announcing its 2016 results in March, Humphrey Cobbold, Pure Gym’s chief executive, said: “Almost a million people currently enjoy our affordable and flexible offer and we’ve introduced a variety of different membership options to suit a wide range of personal circumstances.
“No operator in the history of the gym and fitness sector in the UK has ever achieved this scale of membership.
“For 2017, expansion remains our priority with plans for 20 to 25 openings this year in total.
“Despite our size, we retain a ‘challenger brand’ entrepreneurial spirit with a relentless focus on ensuring our offer appeals to 21st century consumers who want quality and value for money, the flexibility of a no contract offer and facilities they actually use.”
KKR and Pure Gym declined to comment.