Weight Watchers slims down with plans to shed coaches

Louise Moon
·2-min read
Oprah - Michel Euler/AP
Oprah - Michel Euler/AP

Weight Watchers is attempting to slim down with plans to potentially shed up to half its UK coaches as soon as next week.

The move comes as the brand tries to shift its business online as a result of the pandemic and amid increasing competition.

The US company – which rebranded as WW International in 2018 – could make up to 50pc of its nearly 800 UK-based coaches redundant, according to sources, although some of the departures will be voluntary.

WW’s coaches motivate members through their programmes via live chats and in-person sessions. The move comes just two years after the 57-year-old brand shifted from weight loss to overall health and wellness.

Despite being one of the best known names in the diet industry – thanks in no small part to the backing of American TV host Oprah Winfrey, its third largest shareholder – WW is grappling with large debts and increased competition.

It has also had to hike spending on advertising by 22pc in the last three years. Revenue dropped 7pc to $1.4bn in 2019 compared to the year before, while sales for the last three months of this year are expected to be the lowest quarterly figures since the end of 2017, according to estimates by analysts polled by Bloomberg.

Earlier this month WW launched a new ‘holistic’ programme on its app including workouts, food recipes and experiences, as the pandemic forced the company to focus on its digital offerings. In March it rolled out virtual workshops for the first time.

A WW spokesperson said: “As the ongoing Covid crisis has forced the closure of our workshops around the world, we have had to make difficult decisions that will impact some of our valued team members.

“With the accelerated growth of our digital offerings in both our WW app and the launch of virtual workshops, we are taking this time to look at our physical footprint.”