Franchise Times CEO and CFO Feature

Anthony Geisler and John Meloun insights on Xponential's successful IPO in July last year and the acquisitions of BFT and Rumble, Anthony and John provide a unique and rare look at what it really takes to achieve the deals Xponential has announced in the last year.

“They tell me it’s Cam and they took him to the hospital 10 minutes later and his appendix was rupturing,” said Geisler in reference to Cameron Falloon, Body Fit Training’s founder. “I’m thinking man, his body waited until the last possible minute. And the next minute he’s sitting in a hospital bed, FaceTiming his franchisees, telling them about the sale.” (Falloon made a full recovery after surgery, Geisler noted.)

“We burned the candle at both ends for 45 days to get that deal done,” he continued, moving fast because there was another interested buyer in the market. Xponential acquired BFT for $44 million in a combination of cash on the balance sheet and debt from its existing senior secured loan facility. Falloon, along with owners Richard Burnet and Hamish McLachlan, will operate BFT as master franchisee of the brand’s nearly 150 locations in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, while Xponential will ramp up franchising in the U.S. and Canada.

Xponential has the right to later buy out the master franchisee at a set multiple.

“It’s more like a less intense CrossFit,” said Geisler of the functional training group fitness concept, a modality missing from Xponential’s portfolio of boutique fitness brands that now numbers 10 and includes more than 2,100 global studios across concepts such as Club Pilates, Pure Barre, CycleBar and StretchLab. “They were competing with F45 in Australia and doing very well.”

BFT was Xponential’s second acquisition last year—it also bought boxing concept Rumble—and the first since its initial public offering in July, another taxing process, especially since Geisler & Co. did it twice.

“Literally two weeks after I left the New York Stock Exchange floor I was literally closing my doors,” said Geisler of his original IPO plans scuttled in spring 2020 as COVID-19 and its ensuing lockdowns hit the United States. “We didn’t really have time to mourn the loss of the original IPO; there was a lot of adversity to overcome.”

“It was very emotionally and physically draining,” said CFO John Meloun. “You pour your heart and soul into getting ready to go public … then we literally had to pivot from, we’re going public, to, we’ve got to shut down all our studios.”

By early 2021 Meloun began seeing a shift in the numbers, with studios reopening (and staying open) and members returning. Relaunching the IPO effort, however, wasn’t just a matter of dusting off Xponential’s S-1 filing.

“It was heavier from the standpoint of, there was a lot of speculation of what does boutique fitness look like after COVID,” said Meloun, and the company not only needed to demonstrate its strength in the financials but also “change the perception of what people read in the headlines” with “storytelling backed by facts.”

Xponential listed on the New York Stock Exchange July 23, 2021, under the ticker symbol XPOF and raised $120 million in its trading debut. XPOF was trading for $21.04 per share on March 15, almost double its original stock price of $11.20.

For Geisler, who formed Xponential in 2017 after he acquired Club Pilates, taking the company public was a personal goal. “The company is cash-flow positive. The company makes money, so we didn’t need investment dollars. Personally, I wanted the experience of going public.”

Systemwide sales hit $710 million in 2021, and “we’ll do over a billion this year,” he said. “The resiliency of this business is great.”

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