Gabriela and Werner Kieser Gym Center Veterans Exit the Ring

Swiss founder Werner Kieser has sold the eponymous gym chain he created 50 years ago but will stay on as a mentor while his wife leads the supervisory board.
Quelle: Pressebild
Werner Kieser, a former boxer, founded his first gym in 1966.
(Source: Pressebild)

Swiss entrepreneur pair Gabriela and Werner Kieser have sold the sports gym company they founded half a century ago and are retiring, according to an announcement by Kieser Training.

Werner Kieser, a joiner turned boxer, founded his first gym in Zurich back in 1966. The company soon became a chain with 138 gyms, mostly in Germany and Switzerland, but also in Australia. It employs 1,100 people worldwide. A spokesperson told Swiss business weekly Handelszeitung that Kieser’s first studio in China would open in Beijing “in the second quarter of 2017.”

The company sees China as an important growth market. However, the founders won’t oversee the group’s expansion in Asia: Mr. Kieser, 76, and his wife sold their shares to company chief executive Michael Antonopoulos and Swiss entrepreneur Nils Planzer.

“Michael Antonopoulos is the ideal successor, whom we trust and who has worked at Kieser Training for 12 years, seven as CEO,” the company said in a press release.

Mr. Planzer has been a manager at Kieser for five years and is also CEO of family-owned company Planzer Transport.

The couple leave the company in safe hands, but they won’t completely let go of their life’s work. Mr. Kieser will stay on as a mentor and advisor, while his wife, a physician, will lead the company’s supervisory board. Picture source: PR