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City Cave and the wellness revolution: unveiling unprecedented growth

Sarah Stowe

City Cave is primed to take advantage of massive growth in the wellness sector, says co-founder Jeremy Hassell.

According to The Global Wellness Economy: Country Rankings Australia is one of six “standout” countries that surpassed their pre-pandemic market by at least 120 per cent.

From 2020 to 2022, the wellness sector in Australia grew 12.9 per cent annually and was valued at $164.4 billion (US$110 bn). The per capita spend was $6304 (US$4218).

City Cave’s wellness solution

City Cave operates within the personalised, bespoke treatment segment, says Jeremy. He and co-founder Tim Butters launched the City Cave relaxation business to relieve stress after Jeremy discovered the impact floatation had on his well-being.

“This is a treatment for people dealing with everyday stress. It’s not a luxury item, I see it as completely necessary for the times we live in right now,” Jeremy says. “The only real time that we have off from our digital world is sleep and floatation therapy is an accelerated version of that.”

City Cave’s solution – an edited selection of stress-relieving treatments including massage and infrared sauna delivered as private, individual experiences – has hit the mark with Australian consumers.

The brand’s focus on the bespoke-style experience in a highly-sanitised, safe environment is proving a winning combination.

City Cave’s growth in Australia

The growth of centres and the number of City Cave franchise owners opening up their second and third wellness spaces is impressive.

City Cave’s footprint has extended to 74 centres in Australia, at a rate of 300 per cent growth since 2021.

“We’ve sold out in Queensland; we’re just about sold out in New South Wales. Our marketing efforts and focus will be predominantly South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia,” Jeremy reveals. “Those markets and regional areas still have quite a way to go.”

The fast-growing business has made significant advances in its growth, despite economic headwinds. There is a clear strategy to continue to drive expansion and optimise the opportunities of a trending sector, even in tough times.

“For us, and particularly now, our focus is on growing sustainably. We ensure territory sizes are big enough so they can sustain the amount of people that are willing to still spend in this environment. And we make sure that we don’t grow too fast,” says Jeremy.

Jeremy and Tim have learned from experience the difficulties of evolving systems and processes to meet the demands of supercharged growth.

“Now our sustainable approach is at two levels. It’s a geographic expansion and it’s also making sure that we can keep up with the growth of the business.

Profitability is key to City Cave’s growth

“It’s about Tim and I saying no to opportunity because there are a million opportunities out there. We’re hyper-focused on what we need to do,” Jeremy says.

“Franchisors have to protect franchise owner profitability and it needs to be a focus at all times,” he says.

He believes it is essential for sustainable growth to stay close to franchise owners’ financial performance and understand which levers can help drive business.

“Technology is essential because the quality of the data is dependent on the capabilities of your systems. A franchise owner must have clear visibility over all the levers in their business and the P&Ls and what drives it.”

As the business has kept up its impressive pace of growth Tim and Jeremy have refined their responsibilities.         

Expanding internationally

Now Tim is heading up the exciting advancement into the US market; there is one centre open and another under construction.

City Cave is focused on Florida and Texas, and is deploying the same tactics for growth that succeeded in Australia.

“We’re getting the foundations right and we’re making sure we’re very clear on the strategy.

Over here we grew initially just in Queensland, despite interest in different states and different areas. And we started in the city’s outskirts and built the customer base for our locations and then slowly moved our way into more expensive areas.

“So we’re taking that same approach in the US. We’re in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, which is not the biggest city in Florida. And then Fort Worth just outside of Dallas.

“We are launching in more community-driven areas and will circumnavigate cities until we can properly develop the inner city suburbs,” Jeremy says.

It’s an exciting time for City Cave as it looks to build a strong base in the US, and plots its expansion beyond its east coast base in Australia, and further afield.

Expect to see the City Cave brand in more global settings in the long term.

“If I were to look up on the horizon, I would look at some Southeast Asian countries, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan. I think our services will suit these markets well.

“And then, certain parts of Europe like the UK and Sweden which are familiar with this type of service although maybe less on a bespoke level like ours,” says Jeremy.

City Cave’s growth is important to me, but more so from a consumer perspective, because I know how necessary our product is,” says Jeremy. “And I don’t think there’s a single brand out there with the same philosophy or vision we do.”