Coronavirus cost Duncan Bannatyne's gym business £30 million

11 October 2020, 21:28

Duncan Bannatyne attending The Sun Military Awards in London in 2016
Scottish entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne says his gym business is now worth around 60 percent of its pre-Covid value. Picture: Getty

By Joe Cook

Businessman Duncan Bannatyne has revealed to LBC that the coronavirus crisis has cost his Health Club & Spa chain “about £30 million” and is now worth 60 percent of its pre-Covid value.

The former Dragons Den star was speaking to Ruth Davidson for her show An Inconvenient Ruth.

Mr Bannatyne, who owns over 70 gyms across the UK, told Ruth: "The whole tragedy has cost my company about £30 million and we have funded that by me not taking the dividends that I normally take and by leaving a loan in.”

“If we continue now we can survive, but we are still in survival mode because we have lost around 25 to 30 percent of our members."

The 71-year-old said he wished he had sold his gym business before the coronavirus “express train” hit.

“The business would sell for probably about 60 percent of what it would have sold for. If Covid keeps going and they keep closing gyms down forever we might not have a business to sell, but hopefully we will,” Mr Bannatyne told Ruth.

However, he added that the focus should be on his business, explaining: “You know, people have lost their lives and people have lost their jobs, it is much more terrible for them.

"We have lost nothing compared to the people who have lost their jobs, the tragedy of businesses that have closed.”

The Scottish entrepreneur said he supported extending the furlough scheme at a reduced rate and was “glad” not to be in “the Prime Minister's position”.

“I think it is very difficult, it is a very difficult balancing act for the government to decide when to close businesses and help get rid of the virus, or leave businesses open and have more virus and go for herd immunity or whatever. It is a very great balancing act," he noted.

The former Dragon, who made his fortune in the care home business, said it was a “tragedy of this virus how many old people have died in terrible ways without their loved ones around them”.

“You could shrug your shoulders and say 'They were going to die soon anyway'. Part of that is true, but it is how you die and when you die that is important.

“They would see their grandchildren growing up or their great-grandchildren growing up and then all of a sudden their life was taken.”