I’m out… Dragons’ Den star Duncan Bannatyne rejects £250m for his fitness group
- Bannatyne said an unnamed US operator had made an unsolicited approach
- The Bannatyne Group includes his chain of fitness clubs and hotels
- He said he would leave the business if he accepted an offer
Entrepreneur and former Dragons’ Den star Duncan Bannatyne says he has turned down a pitch for his own business – a £250million offer for his gyms chain.
The tycoon – best known for making investment offers to start-up firms on the TV show – said an unnamed US operator keen to expand in Europe had made an unsolicited approach of ‘between £200million and £250million’ for The Bannatyne Group, which includes his chain of fitness clubs and hotels.
‘It’s quite surprising that someone’s made an offer given the current circumstances,’ he told The Mail on Sunday last night as he prepared for reopening after a three-month lockdown.
Dragons’ Den star Duncan Bannatyne has turned down a pitch for his own business
The 72-year-old said he had not received any other bids for the group, in which he owns 96 per cent with his family owning the remainder.
Bannatyne added that the closure of gyms and hotels during the trio of lockdowns over the last year had cost him £50million and that more than 70,000 of its 210,000 members had left.
He said: ‘I like the company, I like the way it runs, I like my employees. I enjoy it. So I’m not all that motivated to sell. They approached me and they made the offer.
‘The ball’s in their court now. I need to feel that it’s going to a good home and that I’m getting good value for it and my family’s getting good value for it and that I won’t regret it.’
He said he would leave the business if he accepted an offer.
Bannatyne said that since the Covid outbreak, he had sold four houses and pumped £10million into the business
Bannatyne said that since the Covid outbreak, he had sold four houses and pumped £10million into the business. In 2019, the group made profits of £12.8million on £133million in revenues, and paid a £9million dividend.
His wealth is estimated at around £300million, including the value of the group.
The chain’s health clubs in England will reopen tomorrow. He said: ‘We’ve got mixed emotions. It’s going to be great to be back in business. Even the cost of opening is high. It’s got to be our last reopening – it’s important this is our last lockdown.’
The company has had 90 per cent of its staff on furlough and has taken £24.5million in loans through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.
He said his directors had taken a pay cut until the loan is paid back, likely by late 2024.
Bannatyne, who was on the BBC series from 2005 to 2015, was speaking from Miami after spending lockdown in the Caribbean.