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He’s in: Dragons’ Den star swoops for Humberston health club

DRAGON’S Den star Duncan Bannatyne’s fitness empire is swooping into North East Lincolnshire, with a seven-figure investment pledged.

He’s in: Dragons’ Den star swoops for Humberston health club

The entrepreneur’s main business interest is taking on Humberston Country Club from Virgin Active, after it decided the exclusive leisure complex no longer fitted with its strategy. 

Bannatyne Fitness has 69 health clubs nationwide, with more than 200,000 members, and it will upgrade the existing facilities, though no immediate plans have been revealed.

A spokesman said: "We are delighted that we expect to add Virgin Active Humberston to our portfolio."

Letters have today been received by members outlining the imminent changes.

In it, Virgin explains how it is concentrating on city locations “in line with its international growth strategy”. Of the 45 clubs it operates in the UK, 33 are in London. The closest to Humberston are in Sheffield and Nottingham.

Virgin describes Bannatyne's as a “premium health club and spa operator,” and said the new owner will “aim to provide club members with a quality health club combining modern gym facilities with swimming pools, spas and saunas”.

All staff and members will transfer to Bannatyne.

A spokesman for Virgin Active said: "We can’t thank our members and colleagues enough for their contribution to Virgin Active over the past six years.”

A £77 million deal completed in April 2011 saw Virgin take over the Humberston Avenue site from Esporta, as part of a buy-out of 55 clubs, following initial purchases from the company in 2005. 

Virgin Active took over the lease of the club and facilities from land-owning pension fund Standard Life, and shortly afterwards the investment was put up for sale, with plans to sell off the nine-hole golf course quickly materialising as the latter didn't sit with Sir Richard Branson's portfolio. 

A sale was completed to a private investor, Lincoln-based Limes Developments Ltd, with long lease attached covering the health club. Golf continues to this day on the site, which neighbours Humberston Academy, and also includes an extensive tennis provision as well as pools, restaurant and function facilities.

Launched in the late Nineties after successful ventures in care homes and nurseries, Bannatyne's acquired 26 health clubs from Hilton Hotels in 2006, making it the largest independent chain of health clubs in the UK.

York, Mansfield, Wakefield and Barnsley are currently the closest in the portfolio. 

The handover will take place on August 31, with the club closing at 2pm, opening on September 1 under the Bannatyne banner.

News Courtesy: www.humberbusiness.com

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