California Fitness

California Fitness has yet to hand back closed Tuen Mun premises, Hong Kong court hears

Liquidator claims three to four weeks needed to restore premises to original condition, but judge urges faster action

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 August, 2016, 3:04pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 August, 2016, 6:11pm

Shuttered gym chain California Fitness has yet to return a closed shop in Tuen Mun to its landlord as the cash-strapped group is still looking for buyers, a Hong Kong court heard on Wednesday.

Accountancy firm ShineWing, tasked with managing the fitness chain as a provisional liquidator, also told the High Court it had intended to restore the premises to the condition it had been in before the lease started.

But ShineWing did not say in court whether JV Fitness, operator of California Fitness, mYoga and Leap, was still in talks with potential bidders.

The embattled gym group lost HK$117 million over the past 2 1/2 years and is now facing a winding-up petition filed by its former owner Wong Ping-kuen, who sold the chain to his brother Wong Lun.

On Wednesday, Mr Justice Jonathan Harris allowed Ho Chue Ming and Sons Land Investment – the owner of California Fitness’ Tuen Mun branch – to proceed with a separate legal claim against the gym group.

The landlord told the court that it had failed to get the property back after the chain stopped paying rents in June.

JV Fitness closed all 12 of its outlets across the city in July. A number of shop owners, apart from Ho, have separately taken legal action against the chain to claim their premises.

As the chain’s current boss did not appear in court on Wednesday, ShineWing said on his behalf that it needed three to four weeks to remove equipment and fittings before returning the Tuen Mun premises.

But Harris said the process should move faster.

“The landlord had not required the reinstatement of its premises,” he said.

The judge permitted the landlord to pursue its case and urged the parties to discuss among themselves practical matters regarding the removal of fixtures on the premises.