New Hampshire-based Planet Fitness has fired CEO Chris Rondeau and replaced former Gov. Craig Benson, a longtime member of the company’s board, as interim leader.
The company’s press release on Friday said the shakeup was the result of “the board’s decision to transition to new management” and “not the result of any material or unanticipated financial event. ”.
Mr. Rondeau joins the company as a clerk at the original Planet Fitness store in Dover and will continue to serve on the company’s board of directors.
“My 30-year career at Planet Fitness has been an incredible one. It has been an honor to lead this company and serve its employees, franchisees, and members,” Rondeau said in a statement. Ta.
News of the move reportedly surprised many Planet Fitness employees, and the company’s stock price quickly fell by 15%.
This follows a relatively strong performance for the gym chain, which ended the first quarter of this year with 18.4 million members and an 8.7% increase in same-store sales.
But while Planet Fitness’ growth from one gym in Dover to a behemoth with 2,400 franchises is a success story, it hasn’t been without its challenges and controversies.
In 2021, the gym that pioneered the “judgment-free zone” settled a lawsuit filed by a former employee who claimed she was drugged and raped by a Planet Fitness manager and his friends while on a business trip.
In 2022, the Massachusetts Court of Appeals ruled that the company fraudulently misled its former CFO about the company’s value, and the company was ordered to pay $9.4 million.
According to the complaint, Mr. Benson contributed to the problem by telling the former CFO that Planet Fitness’ finances were unstable.
This is just one example of how Mr. Benson has aligned his interests with the company he will lead. Benson has served as a member of the Planet Fitness Board of Directors since 2017. He is also co-owner of Radiance, which manufactures software used in nearly 900 of Planet Fitness’ stores. Mr. Benson himself owns several of his Planet Fitness franchises.
“I am familiar with this business. Planet Fitness has a solid foundation in place,” Benson said in a statement. “I am ready to hit the ground running and look forward to working with management and employees to ensure a seamless transition for all stakeholders.”
Leading Planet Fitness, even temporarily, is Benson’s most high-profile post since leaving office in 2005.
In announcing Benson’s new role, Planet Fitness’ board of directors cited Benson’s work as governor and leadership of Cabletron, once New Hampshire’s largest employer.
But Planet Fitness also highlighted a lesser-known part of his resume: franchise owner.
“Benson has also been a franchisee of Dunkin Donuts LLC, which operates 147 stores for more than 15 years,” the statement said.
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