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CURVES Sold? Gary Heavin Out?

July 27, 2012

CURVES Sold? Gary Heavin Out?

Curves franchise owners and UnhappyFranchisee.com long for the day when we publish that headline with exclamation points instead of question marks.

According to a report by Stuart Goldman on the Club Industry website, Curves International is close to an equity deal with North Castle Partners. 

According to the Curves franchise owners and former franchise owners who have posted more than 1000 Curves franchise complaints on UnhappyFranchisee.com, a deal can’t close fast enough.

Speaking of closing fast, more than half of the franchisee-owned Curves U.S. locations have closed in the last few years.  (Read: CURVES: The Rise & Painful Fall of the Curves Franchise Chain)

Curves franchisees complain that they have suffered brutal and callous treatment at the hands of Curves International.  Rather than lending assistance or even compassion, devastated Curves franchise owners complain, the supposedly Christian Curves International turned loose law firm/collection agency attack dogs to demand final payments from failed franchisees.  Curves franchisees were not allowed to sell their equipment, but were forced to return, donate or destroy it by CI.

It’s been alleged that Curves management repeatedly rubbed salt in the wounds of their many failed franchise owners. 

As franchisees fought for survival, past-President Mike Raymond told the Wall Street Journal the widespread failures were part of a strategy to “prune” the Curves system. (Read: CURVES Franchise Owners React to Comments That They’re Being “Pruned)

When confronted with the high SBA loan default rate from Curves franchise investments, founder and CEO Gary Heavin blamed greedy franchisees and “the overpriced resales of franchises between third parties.”

As their franchisees struggled to save their homes and savings and fight off bankruptcy, Gary and Diane Heavin publicized their Christian philanthropy by appearing on the national tv show Secret Millionaire (Gary Heavin on ABC Secret Millionaire: What do CURVES Franchisees Think?)

Curves Sale Negotiations in the “Final Stages.”

According to Club Industry:

Curves International, Waco, TX, says it is close to an equity deal agreement with private-equity firm North Castle Partners.

Curves CEO Gary Heavin says negotiations surrounding the transaction are in the final stages.

“North Castle and Curves are working closely together as the investment becomes finalized,” Heavin said in a statement released to Club Industry. “We will send out a notice to inform everyone when the transaction is official and follow up with details about upcoming changes shortly after that.”

Terms of the pending transaction were not disclosed.

North Castle Partners, Greenwich, CT, is a firm focused on the health, wellness and active living sector. Its investments range from $10 million to $200 million. Included in its portfolio are equipment manufacturer Octane Fitness, Brooklyn Park, MN, and Canadian clubs World Health and Spa Lady.

How the deal would affect the company roles of Heavin and his wife, Diane, who co-founded Curves in 1992, is unknown. Full details regarding any changes in the corporate structure will be released when the deal is finalized, according to the company.

Read all about Curves International here:  CURVES: Curves Posts on Unhappy Franchisee

ARE YOU FAMILIAR WITH THE CURVES FRANCHISE OR CURVES INTERNATIONAL?  SHARE A COMMENT BELOW.

Comments

14 Responses to “CURVES Sold? Gary Heavin Out?”

  1. brenda gibbs says:

    Gary and Dianne have made it official and has stepped down as CEO.

    Finally, we can move on and hope the next group is not as money hungry for themselves…a little more for us?

  2. ADMIN says:

    It’s official!  Gary & Diane Heavin have sold Curves to North Castle Partners.

    Read his announcement message to Curves franchisees.

    Please share a farewell message with Gary, below, and let him know what impact he has had on your life, your finances, your credit, and the well being of your family.

    CURVES: Say Goodbye to Gary Heavin!

  3. Juliana says:

    Buying a Curves was the worst thing I’ve ever done. I’m one of the fortunate ones who kept the total loss around 50K. You took a fantastic idea and a well respected brand and drove it into the ground along with the money of lots of good hard working people.

  4. Pam Paulk says:

    I owned and operated my franscise 12 yr. Ihave a buyer, Curves was not their when I needed them and I did it on my own basically. when you went to seminars or workshops, it cost,and always there was a deal in if for Gary on any product line to sell. and pressure to upgrade constantly.
    The transfer of my new buyer has been rough, CI is not on their toes and the dept. heads do not know what the other does.
    I am SO GLAD I will be our of curves. Financially, I did ok. but… I had some rocky last 2 years, economey maybe, but alot to do with Cooperate functions also.
    Gary is not the HOLY ROLY he plays onTV to be.

  5. Pam Paulk says:

    I have made great friends in the Curves business, women who tried hard to do for other women. Curves concept is great, and the compasion and friendships made in connection women is awsome, but that has to do with the Club owner and staff, not Curves International.
    I wish this company well, it needs help.
    I will rememer the 12 yrs. of experience Curves and I had. It did teach me a lot.,

  6. Pam Paulk says:

    If you have a franchise to close, it is not fair for them to have to crush the equipment or send it back. It was Paid For in the origional sale of the the purchase of the franchise.
    It is expensive for the club to have to close, I just got lucky and sold mine for next to nothing due to value of the company. I was planning to shut the club when my franchise was up, and Curves International did nothing to help me salvage my club or resale it, but…. YOU GARY still wanted a royalty fee.

    I think it was TIME for you and Ms. Dianne to move on.

  7. mark urich says:

    They cloaked themselves in God while he bullied everyone to full his coffers

  8. Paula Sparks says:

    Dear Gary and Diane,

    Firstly, I want to thank you for making such a huge difference in my life and for all of the opportunities you provided to me. They were life changing. . As the Assistant Director of Mentors, a franchise owner and mentor, I was thrilled to have my dream job and as a boss goes, I couldn’t have asked for better people to mentor me not only in my job, but in life. To this day, I use many things you have taught me in my everyday life. I have the upmost respect for you guys and wish you nothing but the very best in whatever the future calls you to do. Curves will not be the same without your dedication and ownership. I have never seen you do the wrong thing. I guess it was time however to move on. Wishing you and your family all of the best in the future…

    Paula Sparks

  9. Suzanne Carter says:

    Dear Gary and Diane,

    When I first discovered Curves in 2000, it was a dream come true. Being an RN with substantial prior business experience and eager to help older women improve their health, I was blessed with this tremendous opportunity. As you know, I dove in and purchased the rights to open quite a few. With a lot of hard work, close attention to detail, high professional standards, intense staff training and dozens of rewards for our wonderful team of dedicated women and thousands of members, my 5 Curves grew into a huge success. Because of this we were able to pay it forward, became a powerful community of women and together helped many charitable organizations along the way. Although it was often a challenge to keep up with the constant policy changes that occurred as Curves International grew so quickly, we strived to do our best while managing thousands of travel pass members each season. You worked with me, I kept the brand name foremost in my mind and we not only survived, together we thrived. Nearly 7 years ago, my family situation changed and I sold my clubs. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I tried to help the new owner over the years, my suggestions fell on deaf ears. According to her staff, she thought the clubs could run themselves and much to our sadness, last spring she closed the clubs.

    I want to thank you for the opportunity for my blessed experience and send you and Diane every good wish.

    Suzanne Carter

  10. Penny says:

    Suzanne,

    Curves has gone from about 7,000 US Curves to currently just over 2500. You might want to consider that your buyer was doing everything in their power to stay profitable but the brand died. I know original owners who at one time were hugely successful (over 1000 members) and yet now they are sputtering along. The owners haven’t become stupid. The brand has become stale. If no one wants your product you can do everything right and still fail.

    As a former owner who had the providence to own Curves at the height of its popularity you might not want to be so quick to judge the now almost 5000 clubs who have closed their doors.

    Penny

  11. Happy Close says:

    Suzanne,
    Any Curves that sold between 2003-2005 did well. Unfortunately, I have never heard of one buyer that did well after 2005. Your timing was perfect. Yes, many clubs are covering expenses and perhaps some income. Does anyone know of any clubs that are truly thriving and experiencing significant growth?

  12. Happy Close says:

    I forgot to mention that many AD’s willl mention clubs that have grown. On close inspection, typically, it is because clubs have closed near their territory and transferred members over.

  13. Susan Johnson says:

    I lost my life savings and my inheritance when I sold my franchise for one dollar. I wish the public could be told the truth about this company, but my tongue is bound by the release forms I had to sign when Curves released me. If I expose the truth, I’ll be sued. Unfortunate, but I like teaching and will now continue till I die! There is always an upside in life–Gary H. Is not it.

  14. Cindy Hathaway says:

    I have managed a Curves for 7 years. I used to love it. There are now more rules and regulations, more focus on “bars” and everything but healthy women. The franchise is stale, nothing new except their ridiculously “expensive” weight management plan and you even need to use their colors and no personalization. It was sad when our owner decided to “tow the line”. I am waiting for it to close, as new members are few and far between. Unemployment here I come! Curves pushes “Silver Sneakers”, but yet do nothing to help “paying” members. A once thriving franchise has turned into a joke. Sad really. Maybe the “new” investors need to realize they deal with women. Gary and Diane made their millions, now have moved on with their “wind fall”. Why not quit? As I said above, hoping for unemployment……comes also with a totally “uninvolved” owner. For the record, before comments are made, members of my club NEVER know how I feel. I hide my feelings well.

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