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HomeCover StoryJUNE 2023 - Gravity Active Entertainment

JUNE 2023 – Gravity Active Entertainment

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Pushing the Boundaries

Gravity Active Entertainment was founded back in 2014 with a vision of providing safe and exciting family fun on a mass scale. In this interview, RLI sits down with Co-Founder and CGO Michael Harrison to learn about the origins of the business, what has propelled the company to unprecedented levels of success in the nine years since inception and what plans are in place for the future.

Created by Michael Harrison, Harvey Jenkinson and Simon Whicker, Gravity Active Entertainment remains the fastest-growing leisure and active entertainment company in the UK.

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Beginning life as a single trampoline park in Yorkshire, the business has come a long way in a short space of time. When they were setting up this first trampoline park, the initial idea was that malls needed something more, they needed to evolve to incorporate leisure on a larger scale.

“Even back then, I always knew that multi-choice, multi-leisure was where we wanted to take this concept,” explains Michael Harrison, CGO and Co-Founder of Gravity Active Entertainment. “So over time we began to add additional elements to the core concept. First there was climbing, then we added golf and we focused heavily on the 4-12 year old market.”

Always looking forward and remaining innovative, during the pandemic the company constructed the 75,000sq ft Gravity Wandsworth site which has been a real game-changer for the business.

“We looked forward at how we could improve on what already existed in the market and Gravity Wandsworth has doubled the revenue expected and added 25 per cent footfall to the overall shopping centre. This site has really set us up as a company to do exactly what I’ve wanted to do, which was the incorporation of multi-use leisure all under one roof.”

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Off the back of the success of this location, landlords and franchise partners from around the world have been in touch, with the team currently working on the upcoming 100,000sq ft Liverpool ONE site which is due to launch this summer and the 70,000sq ft unit in Westfield Stratford.
Utilising the lessons learnt from the Wandsworth location, the team has a much better understanding as it moves forward with the Liverpool ONE site, its biggest Gravity location to date.

“With Liverpool ONE we will have a location that is perfect for summer weather with a rooftop area of 7,500sq m that features a retractable roof, three bars, two DJ areas, three live music stages and a food hall. From an experiential point of view, we are now moving the business on from leisure that is supported by F&B, to a really strong leisure and F&B mix and we feel this will take the business to another level,” Harrison explains.

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The Liverpool ONE unit will also feature the company’s recently launched Gravity Max concept. The idea behind this is that the attraction is family-orientated during the day but then come 8 or 9pm, the lights go down, the music goes up and the venue turns into a young adult-themed location until 1am.

“But also at these sites we are installing workspaces. We have two rooms where up to 50 people can work at a time, so people can come and get some work done for a few hours before enjoying an hour or two of fun together. We are really looking at an inclusive offer that features the family, the young adult and the corporate markets,” adds Harrison.

In total the company now operates 27 entertainment parks with the vast majority in the UK for now. Internationally, they operate a site in Germany, one in Saudi Arabia with another on the verge of opening and they are in the process of building a 130,000sq ft site in Mauritius. Looking ahead, the Middle East and Mauritius are the major markets they are looking into.

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With the business practically doubling in size ever year, Harrison admits that one thing they have struggled to do properly is its social media marketing. While they did this in-house, the opening of Gravity Wandsworth made them have a rethink as the company continued to grow at a frenetic rate. They have teamed up with BWP who now help Gravity execute their marketing plan across every social media outlet, something the Co-Founder admits they probably should have done some time ago.

When we ask Harrison what the key drivers are behind the success of the business, he immediately says it is the people and the team they have built over the last nine years.

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“It is about making sure our team feel rewarded, feeling like they are part of a bigger team and making sure there is no one less important in our business. Across all 1,000 team members, there is no one more important than anyone else and it is this team that make the difference between us and the rest.”

With Michael working on the pipeline of new sites, our time with him was quickly coming to an end so our last question was to ask what lies ahead and what does he feel is the greatest challenge facing the business?

“I think complacency and probably getting too big for our boots would be our biggest risk, especially given how fast we have and continue to grow. However as long as we stick to the values of hard work, dedication and honesty which are the core of the business, then we won’t go far wrong,” Harrison concludes.