Dragon's Den entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne has hailed a successful year for his health club chain, posting a 30% rise in pre-tax profits to £11.5m.
Turnover for the 59-site chain is up £91.7m to £92.4m, while operating profit before exemptions and impairments also rose up from £13.3m to £14.7m.
Pre-tax profits before exemptions and impairments saw the sharpest rise, up 30% for the year ended December 31 2013, from £8.8m to £11.5m.
Membership across the chain stands at around 170,000 and founder and chairman Duncan Bannatyne said the results are down to growing internet bookings and the introduction of three different health club levels, which have boosted members and activity.
Annual accounts also show Bannatyne’s earnings and salary benefits, as the highest paid director of the company, totalled £365,000, a rise of 22.7% on last year’s emoluments of £297,333.
Bannatyne said the strengthened financial position now puts it in firm stead to consider future acquisitions.
He said: “These fantastic results vindicate our strategy to reduce debt and focus on new ways to deliver exceptional service to members. “Early post-balance sheet indicators show that the use of internet booking and the introduction of three different levels of health club have had a significant effect on activity and membership growth.
“During 2013, paying a modest amount off the debt with Anglo-Irish bank had a real impact on the annual interest payments and we were able to achieve real productivity gains with very few redundancies.
“The result is a stronger business which has the resources to invest and grow in the future.
“At the beginning of this year the business went further and paid off its expensive and cumbersome Anglo-Irish loan.
“This move has already resulted in improved cash flow and liquidity, allowing the company to consider acquisitions in a consolidating market.”
The business, which employs around 5,000 people across the UK, also disclosed a number of post-balance sheet events in the accounts, including the group of ground lease transactions with M&G Investments and a loan from RBS.
Last month the firm reached an agreement with M&G Investments for the sale and leaseback of the ground leases of 39 Bannatyne’s Health Clubs, a £92m deal which the company said releases it from millions of pounds of bank debt and provides a strong platform for future development and continuing profits.
A growth in online sales of 98% for the first two months of 2014, compared to the same period in 2013, has also been recorded and a growth in new membership of 14% for the first two months of 2014 compared to the same period in 2013 has also been achieved.