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Business & Economy

Duncan Bannatyne returns to frontline as fitness business reveals record turnover and higher profits

A health club company’s high-profile founder has returned to the business’ frontline as it seeks to build on record turnover and increased profit.

Duncan Bannatyne OBE has returned as executive chairman at Bannatyne Group.

His return comes after chief executive Justin Musgrove, who oversaw the business’ running for five years, accepted a new role in the Middle East.

Duncan, known to many from his time on BBC show Dragons’ Den, praised Justin’s impact on the Darlington-headquartered firm, saying it is in “fine fettle” to continue extending its market presence.

Duncan’s return was revealed as the business announced its financial results for the year to December 31 2018, which showed good progress across its headline figures.

According to its results, turnover grew by 8.5 per cent on a year ago to a record £127.5 million, with earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) up from £31.3 million to £32.4 million.

Pre-tax profit was also higher, rising to £14.6 million from £14.3 million in 2017.

Referring to the progress of the organisation, which has clubs in Chester-le-Street, Durham, Darlington, Ingleby Barwick and Coulby Newham, near Middlesbrough, Duncan said: “The business is in great shape, turnover is at a record high and profits are strong and sustainable.

“Our members are enjoying facilities, which have been enhanced with significant investments in new equipment, new technology and a wide range of new classes and services delivered by our exceptional team.

“We now expect this long period of investment to result in a business that will maintain further growth and profits as we continue to provide the sector-leading facilities and high-quality services our members and customers expect and deserve.”

Duncan also spoke of his delight at returning to the business in a day-to-day capacity, confirming it is now embarking on the final stage of a three-year, £50 million investment programme to refurbish its sites around the UK.

He added: “I am thrilled to be back at the frontline, leading the business at a time of great opportunity and excitement in the UK economy.

“Justin has done a great job in the last five years and we wish him well as he embarks on a new career in the Middle East.

“He leaves the business in fine fettle and I will enjoy running it again in a more ‘hands-on’ role.”

Bannatyne Group operates a nationwide portfolio of 72 health clubs, 47 spas and four hotels.