SoulCycle announced Tuesday that Evelyn Webster will take over the role of chief executive officer in mid-December, the company told CNBC Make It.
The announcement comes 12 months after Melanie Welan resigned from her position as CEO on Nov. 26, 2019, citing the need for new leadership. Sunder Reddy, SoulCycle’s chief financial officer since 2017, has been the company’s acting CEO since the transition.
“SoulCycle is an extraordinarily powerful brand that touches the hearts and minds of its riders and larger community, and one that I have experienced personally so I could not be more excited to be a part of this team,” Webster said in a release.
Webster was most recently the CEO of Guardian News and Media’s international operations. Since Jan. 2017, she was responsible for directing the brand’s international strategy across the U.S. and Australia.
The Guardian, which relies on donations from readers, reported its first operating profit in 2019. During the Covid-19 pandemic, The Guardian reached record levels of web traffic. “Even in the most dire scenario that I have looked at, the Guardian would still be a profitable business in America,” Webster told “The Digiday Podcast” on April 21.
Before Guardian News and Media, Webster was the executive vice president and group president of the media corporation Time Inc, where she led business operations for 20 U.S. brands, including Essence, InStyle, Real Simple and Travel and Leisure. Prior to that, she was the CEO of British publisher IPC Media.
“Very few brands have the kind of resonance that SoulCycle does, and given my experience leading a mission-driven organization, I see a tremendous opportunity to build upon the phenomenal foundation already established by the team and extend the brand’s reach and impact through new and exciting initiatives,” Webster said.
At SoulCycle, Webster will focus on “building a team and company culture that supports SoulCycle’s mission,” according to the release.
In November, multiple SoulCycle riders and staff alleged that the company enabled toxic behavior, sexual harassment and anti-gay and racial discrimination, according to reports by Business Insider.
In a statement to Business Insider at the time, a spokesperson for SoulCycle said: “At SoulCycle, our priority has always been to build a community centered on our core values of diversity, inclusion, acceptance and love. When we receive complaints or allegations related to behavior within our community that does not align to our values, we take those very seriously and both investigate and address them. We are committed to continuing to make improvements and ensuring that we live up to the values that our teams and riders expect of us.” SoulCycle declined to comment further.
“Evelyn brings a depth of experience and a much needed fresh perspective during a pivotal moment for the brand, making her an ideal leader to continue driving the growth potential forward for SoulCycle,” Harvey Spevak, executive chairman and managing partner of Equinox Group, which owns SoulCycle, said in the release.
During the signature 45-minute indoor cycling SoulCycle workout, riders follow along with an instructor and move to the beat of music inside a dark, candle-lit studio. In October, SoulCycle rolled out an at-home stationary bike that costs $2,500 (plus applicable tax), and rivals the popular Peloton Bike. The bike operates on Equinox Group’s accompanying digital streaming platform, called Variis, and includes other workout classes in the brand’s portfolio, such as PURE Yoga and Precision Run.
There are currently more than 90 SoulCycle locations in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. During the pandemic, the company launched SoulOutside, outdoor SoulCycle classes in 30 locations around the country.
The fitness industry has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. Gyms and fitness clubs lost an estimated $13.9 billion during shutdowns as of the end of August, the International Health Racquet & Sportsclub Association told the AP. In April, SoulCycle announced furloughs and pay cuts as locations were forced to close due to the pandemic. Now, however, the company has brought back the majority of employees and has committed to bringing employees who were at a reduced compensation back up to 100% compensation in November, said a source close to the company.
SoulCycle declined to comment on recent revenue or financials.
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