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Serco Leisure

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What we can do for you
Founded in 1988, Serco Leisure Operating Limited is one of the UK’s leading national operators of leisure centres, destination venues and elite sporting facilities. In 2021, we were named ukactive’s Outstanding Organisation of the Year.

Working in partnership with our national partner More Leisure Community Trust Limited (More Leisure) we operate over 40 sites and facilities on behalf of Local Authority clients, Sport England and just over 40% of all Elite Sport National Governing Bodies.

Serco Leisure is part of Serco’s UK Citizen Services business, which generates revenues in excess of £350m pa and employs more than 6,000 staff.

Key products and services
We manage local authority gyms and pools on behalf of councils in England, Northern Ireland and on the Channel Island of Jersey, but our breadth of experience covers so many other areas, including the operation of prestige National Sports Centres such as Bisham Abbey and Lilleshall, venues where elite and community sport come together.

Since 2018, in partnership with More Leisure and on behalf of WheelPower, we have been the proud operator of Stoke Mandeville Stadium, the birthplace of the Paralympic movement.

We also manage two golf courses as well as the Outdoor Adventure facility at Mote Park in Kent.

At our national centres, we offer accommodation, a range of dining options, conferencing facilities and wedding venues steeped in history. These centres are also home to various major sporting NGBs, including British Gymnastics and England Hockey.

We’re the company responsible for the original design and build for Transport for London’s successful cycle hire scheme and have provided, maintained and distributed the bikes, since the scheme’s launch. In 2021 we launched a cycle hire scheme in the West Midlands, which when fully rolled out will offer around 1,500 bikes for hire across the region.
case study: Making an impact – Ladywood Leisure Centre
“Ladywood Leisure Centre is a fantastic resource for local residents. In the period it’s been open I have noticed a change in the local area whether that’s a reduction in anti-social behaviour or a general change in attitude to lifestyle and fitness. The community has benefitted massively since the centre has opened.”

Daniel Meese, Police Community Support Officer, Ladywood

Ladywood in Birmingham is one of the most deprived regions in the UK, with low employment and high rates of childhood poverty. Opening a brand-new leisure facility in this area would bring fresh challenges, but by focusing on the needs of the local community, offering sessions that they could afford at times they could attend, we have managed to create a genuine grassroots success story, utilising an inclusive approach, while never forgetting that this is a commercial venture that needs to pay its way.

Before the centre even opened, our on-site team were working with employment agencies to set up a recruitment Open Day, only available to Ladywood residents. Hundreds attended the event, many of whom were long-term unemployed, but when Ladywood opened its doors, it could boast that over 50% of its staff were people from the local area, which has helped greatly in getting ‘buy in’ from the people in this region.

Offering a suite of free and subsidised sessions means this centre is able to offer the residents of Ladywood the opportunity to stay active in a state-of-the-art facility, which may have seemed out of their budget range when they first saw the impressive building go up.

At Ladywood, we have achieved the golden combination: a centre used by local people of all demographics offering subsidised access to a high-quality facility, while managing to keep revenue lines growing all the time. Pre-COVID swimming lesson numbers have recently been smashed, casual swimming is up on pre-2020, the list goes on.

One final element we’re very proud of at Ladywood is how we’ve opened up and promoted the free use of our Community Room, where we house all manner of different sessions, from dance classes to a base for the local chess club. Many leisure centres claim they’re a community hub, but at Ladywood Leisure Centre that claim is a reality.
case study: Aquatics – record breaking growth and there’s more to come
Aquatics is something Serco Leisure is known for, something we do well. We were UK Pool & Spa’s Leisure Operator of the Year for 2018 and 2019 – the only two years we entered. Our centre in Bangor, Northern Ireland, The Aurora won the 2018 World Cup of Pools competition. Pre-COVID, we ran an industry-leading annual competition for lifeguards, which received huge praise from the RLSS. (We’re planning to reintroduce the competition in 2022.) We take swimming seriously, but our growth in 2021 has taken even us a little by surprise.

But we shouldn’t have been surprised really. We hired right and it’s paid off. Our National Aquatics Team, all new for 2021, are headed up by the indomitable Helen Bull, a former runner and champion swimmer, who due to cancer now uses a wheelchair, but hasn’t let that get in the way of her living and achieving. Helen is the only wheelchair user in the UK who’s also a fully qualified swim and lifeguard teacher. Her passion for all things aquatics means there’s a new energy around Serco Leisure’s swimming pools.

As of October 2021, just 6 months after April’s partial reopening, and across the board, our swimming lesson numbers have exceeded our benchmark figures from February 2020. Swimming memberships, often a tough sell, are on track to leapfrog pre-COVID’s numbers by the end of November 2021, while casual swimming is proving more popular than expected as families return to an activity much-missed for most of 2020 and the first part of 2021.

These successes come off the back of a huge amount of hard work by the new National Aquatics Team. Joining Helen, we have Lynn Goring-Crook, National Aquatics Training Lead. Lynn’s appointment is testament to our drive to have the best trained aquatics workforce in the business.

Lynn’s a Swimming Teachers Association (STA) Aquatic Tutor with 'Train the Tutor’ status who’s experienced at developing talent with small and large teams including managing inspiring swim programmes, staff training and career pathways.

Then there’s Jenni May, Commercial Aquatics Development Manager. Jenni has 25 years of leisure experience and is working alongside site leads to look at opportunities to enhance and grow their lesson programmes and maximise pool space. She’s also a Swim England and STA Tutor, passionate about getting as many people as possible utilising our pools for aquatics activities.

We’ve also added experts like Cheryl Hoey, who’s currently heading up our aquatics contracts in Maidstone and Swale. And we’re recruiting in other areas. Serco Leisure will soon have more people working in this area of the business than ever before, signaling our intent to grow and develop aquatics to previously unheard of levels of popularity.
case study: Staying in the top 1% of best managed facilities in the UK
Stretch Outstanding is the highest ranking a site can achieve via NBS Quest, the leisure industry's leading benchmarking service. It is only awarded to those facilities consistently demonstrating the highest standards of operational excellence.

99% of facilities in the UK, which go through Quest, do not match up to this most stringent of assessments. Bisham Abbey and Lilleshall National Sports Centres, which Serco Leisure operate on behalf of Sport England, have achieved Quest – Stretch Outstanding for an incredible three consecutive cycles.

Quest does not check a site on a single day or a single week. it is a continual process to ensure the high standard of service delivered by one group of staff will be replicated across the facility, whichever team is on duty. This is why Bisham and Lilleshall’s achievement is so noteworthy. It demonstrates an embedded culture of excellence at every level. From cleaning staff to catering, front of house to fitness, the teams at these iconic national centres work year-round to stay at the top.

Recent finalist in the ukactive Outstanding Leadership category, Operations Director, Steve Nelson oversees the centres for Serco Leisure.

“Achieving the first ever Quest Stretch Outstanding back in 2014 set the bar high for teams at both facilities, but they’ve risen to the challenge for each assessment cycle. What’s been so pleasing to me is that underpinning so much of our success has been the four core Serco values of Pride, Innovation, Trust and Care. Teams genuinely believe in those values and it shows in the quality of service they deliver day in and day out.”

Quest’s Operations Director, Caroline Constantine, said:

“Lilleshall and Bisham have once again demonstrated that there is a quality of culture throughout the venues on any day of the year, as this is the third time they have achieved Stretch. Well done to all the teams there, a fantastic accolade.”

Charles Johnston, Director of Property at Sport England added:

"It’s great to see the work the centres do being recognised like this, from the relationships they’ve formed and nurtured with key NGBs to the work they do with the community to encourage people of all ages and abilities to get active, using the high quality sporting facilities they have on their doorsteps.”
Serco Leisure video gallery:
Plans for the next 12 months
The next 12 months are all about maintaining the growth we’ve seen across the board for our sites and services in the post-lockdown era, while continuing to meet the sport and activity needs of the diverse communities we serve.

We’ll be working closely with clients to ensure their goals for 2022 align with how we operate as a business, providing services that customers want in an environment that’s inclusive for all, while building existing and new revenue streams.
Key personnel
Simon Lane, Managing Director
Steve Nelson, Operations Director
Sally Kurton, Commercial Director
Steve Lawrence, Operations Director
Leigh Brooks, Marketing Director
Alan Elliott, Partnership Director, Projects
Dan Bradbury, Head of Business Development
Key customers
Sport England
WheelPower
Local authorities
Testimonial
"We have enjoyed a fantastic partnership with Serco Leisure since the contract was awarded in 2015. They manage nine facilities on our behalf and together we have opened four new facilities: Stechford, Northfield, Erdington and Ladywood, two of which won prestigious ukactive awards, highlighting the quality of these new builds.

"The knowledge, expertise and experience Serco bring is first class. In the post-COVID era, we’re confident they are the operator who will provide the level of service, variety of activity and the inclusive welcome the people of Birmingham deserve."
– Dave Wagg, Head of Sport & Development, Birmingham City Council
updates & press releases
26 Apr 2022
Serco Leisure retains key energy management accreditation
Serco’s leisure business has announced the successful retention of its ISO50001:2018 Energy Management Standard certification, following a recent two-day assessment by independent auditors BSI.

The ISO50001:2018 Energy Management Standard demonstrates an organisation’s commitment to continual improvement in the area of energy management. Serco were the first operator in the leisure industry to achieve the accreditation back in 2019, which covers each of its contracts/facilities.

During a recent audit, a team led by Jim Farren, Head of Technical Service for Leisure and supported by colleagues from across Serco demonstrated full compliance with each of the elements required to achieve certification status.

Since 2019, across its leisure business, Serco has introduced SystemsLink Energy Manager software to provide a cost-effective way of monitoring and controlling energy usage, appointed Green Ambassadors for each contract, set a target to reduce energy consumption across the business by 15%, and just last month introduced the Maintaining a Fitter Future initiative to give users of its facilities more transparency around energy usage and ‘green’ projects happening across each of its contracts.

Jim Farren said:

“This is a very important achievement as it not only demonstrates our commitment to reducing carbon emissions but also provides us with a competitive edge in the marketplace.

“I would like to thank our senior leadership team for their commitment to this ongoing process, and all teams in Leisure and across Serco who’ve worked so hard to make this happen. We look forward to the next phase of the improvement cycle to build on this success.”

Steve Lawrence, Operations Director, Leisure said:

“This is an important step in our journey towards net zero and links in well with our Environmental, Social, and Governance commitments.

“We’re all very aware that energy management is more important than ever, so by retaining ISO50001: 2018, we’re showing once again that we’re at the forefront of the industry when it comes to this vital operational area.”
24 Feb 2022
Serco Leisure wins 10-year Mansfield contract
Following a competitive tendering process, Serco Leisure and its partner More Leisure Community Trust Limited (MLCT) have been awarded a 10-year contract by Mansfield District Council to operate three centres in the town, starting 1 May 2022.

The new contract, which includes management of Oak Tree Leisure Centre, Rebecca Adlington Swimming Centre and Water Meadows Swimming & Fitness Complex, sees Serco extend their relationship with the council, which began with an initial contract win in 2012.

The agreement marks a new beginning for leisure services in the town with the creation of an Active Communities Team, who’ll be tasked with getting local people more active via outreach schemes in areas deemed high priority by the council.

There will be £1.7m investment across the three sites with a range of innovative facility enhancements, including an outdoor 3G sports pitch, a Fun Walls climbing zone, interactive Splash Pad and refreshed gyms. There will also be a new Shapemaster toning suite and Community Hub for local partners and community groups to use aimed at improving health and wellbeing.

Led by Serco’s National Energy Manger, the operator will also support Mansfield District Council with its efforts to reduce their carbon footprint by using several initiatives that will result in a 418,000 kg reduction of the sites’ annual CO2 output.

Simon Lane, Serco Leisure’s Managing Director said: “I’m delighted at this news, both for the local team and the people of this community, who’ll continue to benefit from the consistent high standards of service we pride ourselves on across this business.

“We’re very proud of our record in Mansfield. From the award-winning GP referral scheme, Healthy Life, which has helped hundreds of local people ease back into fitness and benefit from more active lifestyles, to Oak Tree Leisure Centre’s amazing run of success at the leisure industry’s premier recognition event, the ukactive awards - winning Centre of the Year for the Midlands on no less than three occasions - we really feel we’ve put the pride back into leisure services in the region.

“We will continue to offer the people of this community affordable, accessible and inclusive health and fitness facilities, working closely with the council to ensure our work aligns with their health and wellbeing targets.”

Cllr Andy Burgin, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Environment said: “This new contract marks a fresh start for leisure provision in Mansfield and will bring multiple health and wellbeing benefits to our residents.

“We are committed to providing residents, of all ages and abilities, with access to a range of opportunities to get involved in sport, physical activity and health and wellbeing activities. The new contract looks at introducing new options within the local community and we look forward to working closely with Serco Leisure and MLCT and seeing their exciting plans come to fruition over the coming months.”

Serco and its partner MLCT will deliver the contract. Brian Taylor, Chair of More Leisure Community Trust added: “This win is wonderful news. A 10-year contract shows Mansfield District Council are confident Serco and MLCT understand the needs of Mansfield citizens and trust us to deliver innovative and exciting developments, which will benefit customers and attract new users to our facilities in Mansfield.”

The River Maun Recreation Centre, currently operated by Serco Leisure and the Mansfield District Leisure Trust, is not included in the new contract. Plans are underway to transfer operation of the centre to Nottingham-based charity Switch Up.
There will be a £1.7m investment across the three Mansfield sites Credit: Serco Leisure
24 Feb 2022
Serco Leisure makes major new appointment
Serco Leisure has named Leigh Brooks as its Director of Marketing, the first time in the company’s history it has appointed a marketing professional at director-level.

Leigh brings a wealth of experience gained in major retail and leisure roles, including spells with Intu Properties, the shopping centre management firm, Savills and Watford Football Club, where she was Head of Marketing and Media for seven years. Via her work in 2020, marketing a multi-million redevelopment project for Intu Watford, Leigh and her teams picked up both the REVO Purple Apple and Golden Apple awards.

Simon Lane, Director, Leisure: “Leigh’s not the final piece in our recruitment jigsaw, but she is the perfect fit for how I see this business progressing in 2022 and beyond. She brings a level of experience and expertise that would be the envy of any marketing team, so we’re very lucky to have her.

“With Leigh on board, I’m confident the way we promote our products and services will go to the next level, giving us the springboard to quickly get back to pre-COVID revenue and usage numbers, then kick on past them to make Serco Leisure bigger and better than ever.

“Leigh will be a key member of our Senior Leadership Team moving forwards.”

Leigh added: “This is an exciting opportunity at a key time for this industry. I’m impressed with what I’ve seen so far, but I’m confident I’ll be able to shape and steer Serco Leisure’s marketing towards even greater levels of success. There’s work to be done in 2022, but I can’t wait to get stuck into the challenges and opportunities ahead.”
Serco Leisure has named Leigh Brooks Director of Marketing Credit: Serco Leisure
15 Dec 2021
Serco Leisure wins operator of the year for the third time at UK aquatics event
Serco Leisure has been crowned Water Leisure Operator of the Year for the third time at the UK Pool & Spa Awards held in Birmingham earlier this month, beating out rival leisure services provider, GLL in the final of the event.

The Leicester-based business has now won the operators award on three occasions, having also triumphed in 2018 and 2019. The UK Pool & Spa Awards are now in their 11th year, and is a competition open to all companies involved in the delivery of pool and spa-based leisure activities.

Simon Lane, Director, Leisure said: “This great news caps a strong year for Serco Leisure at the industry’s key recognition events, following the company’s best ever performance at the Ukactive Awards earlier in 2021, but what this award is really about is the hard work put in, year round, at our pools by lifeguards, swimming teachers, our aquatics senior team and support colleagues everywhere. Well done to everyone involved in this success.”

Helen Bull, National Commercial Aquatics Manager added: “Winning this really feels like the icing on the cake of an incredible year for our swimming teams and the colleagues who support us. We’ve set ourselves some challenging targets for 2022 and beyond but I feel we’re well placed as a business to deliver on those and take Serco Leisure to new heights of success in the pool.”

Two Serco Leisure pools, Ladywood Leisure Centre and Sheppey Leisure Complex were in the running for Water Leisure Venue of the Year on the night, but narrowly missed out on the top prize, coming away with Gold Standards for their work throughout 2021.
Serco Leisure has been crowned Water Leisure Operator of the Year for the third time Credit: Serco
Serco Leisure: news from sportsmanagement.co.uk and fittechglobal.com
OnePT Rochdale has been named as club of the year at this year's ukactive Awards, the second year the operator has claimed victory
More Leisure Community Trust and its managing agent Serco Leisure have been awarded a 10-year contract to operate Stoke Mandeville Stadium.
Serco Leisure
Tel: +44 0116 240 7500
Address: Lancer House, 38 Scudamore Road, Leicester, Leicestershire, LE3 1UB, United Kingdom
Simon Lane, Managing Director
Serco Leisure video gallery:
Key personnel
Simon Lane, Managing Director
Steve Nelson, Operations Director
Sally Kurton, Commercial Director
Steve Lawrence, Operations Director
Leigh Brooks, Marketing Director
Alan Elliott, Partnership Director, Projects
Dan Bradbury, Head of Business Development
Key customers
Sport England
WheelPower
Local authorities