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20 Jun 2024

Mark King is new CEO of Xponential Fitness
BY Kath Hudson

Mark King tells his employees to have fun and take risks

Mark King tells his employees to have fun and take risks
photo: Mark King

Xponential Fitness has appointed sales and franchise expert, Mark King, as CEO, to take the company forward following Anthony Geisler’s abrupt exit in May.

King had announced his retirement when he left Mexican restaurant chain, Taco Bell, in December 2023, having steered the company through the pandemic and took up a number of non-exec roles, however, he's resumed his full-time career with Xponential.

During his four and a half years as CEO of the fast food giant, he led the franchisor to positive same-store sales growth in all but one quarter and opened more than 1,400 new franchise locations.

King was also integral in the acceleration of Taco Bell’s international growth and was credited with establishing a domestic franchise system. He will be using these skills to grow the nine brands of the franchising giant, which Geisler had previously indicated to HCM would double in size, to 6,000 units, within five years.

Previous to Taco Bell, King spent more than five years with Adidas, as president of North America, where he doubled market share and trebled sales in four years. His changes to the working culture resulted in an 'industry-shattering' retention rate and more than 500k job applications in one year.

He started his career working at golf company TaylorMade, joining as a salesperson in 1980, rising to be president 19 years later in 1999 and CEO in 2002. During his time as president and CEO, it became the most profitable golf company in the world, spending time as part of Adidas before being bought by KPS Partners, growing from US$300 million to US$1.85 billion in sales.

“In today’s fast-paced world you need to constantly lead change,” says King. “Successful companies have to constantly innovate and create new things the world has never seen before. Organisations have to change at the same pace – or faster – than the marketplace.”

King describes his approach to leadership as creating a culture of innovation and the right atmosphere to unleash the potential of people to make breakthroughs by allowing them to make mistakes and fix them themselves: “Don’t fear failure. Have fun. Take risks. And then you can break through.”

Chair of Xponential Fitness, Mark Grabowski, says King’s track record in growing global brands and strengthening franchise systems will help Xponential’s growth: “Mark is a brand builder and innovator and his approach to fostering customer-centric cultures and supporting franchisee success is a perfect fit for the company,” he says.

On his appointment, King shared that he's excited to continue the company’s mission to make health and wellness more accessible, saying: “We have a strong portfolio of brands that are category leaders and as one of the leading franchisors in the health and wellness space, we're ideally positioned to continue to grow our global footprint.”

King is also chair of BIG3 basketball league and serves on the board of director for the V Foundation – Victory Over Cancer. With his daughters he has raised more than US$10 million for children's charities through their OneKind Foundation.

Xponential Fitness has had a tumultuous year: last summer it had to fight back from a damning Fuzzy Panda report; two heavyweights John Kersh and Garrett Marshall left in April and the following month Geisler was suspended following a legal challenge by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. It has also offloaded two of its brands: Stride and Row House.

On the upside, there is some forward momentum for King to build on. In November, it brought metabolic health company, Lindora, at the same time as announcing a partnership with Julianne Hough to take her online platform, Kinrgy, into bricks and mortar studios. In November it opened its 3,000th studio and in January took its most successful brand, Club Pilates, to the UK.

It currently offers nine franchises: Club Pilates, CycleBar, StretchLab, BFT, AKT, Pure Barre, Yoga Six, Rumble and Lindora.



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