Leisure venture creates 50 new jobs for North East

A new leisure venture owned and operated by North East businesswoman, Joanne Bannatyne is creating more than 50 new jobs in the region

Joanne Bannatyne (centre)
Joanne Bannatyne (centre)

A new leisure venture owned and operated by North East businesswoman, Joanne Bannatyne is creating more than 50 new jobs in the region.

Trading as JoLee CrossFit Ltd, Bannatyne and her business partner, Lee Howe, have now opened five CrossFit boxes over the last three months with one more planned for early 2014.

The businesswoman, who was married to Dragon’s Den tycoon, Duncan Bannatyne for six years, initially advertised her new leisure venture with a billboard poster – just down the road from her ex-husband’s flagship health and fitness club last year.

The 47-year-old was pictured on the huge poster, which included the phrase “Welcome Your New Neighbours”.

Each of Bannatyne’s new centres has created six to nine jobs together with a support team, including an operations manager, membership co-ordinator and administrator.

Bannatyne said: “We have been able to open five outlets already in Teesside, Darlington, Hartlepool, Team Valley and most recently Belmont, Durham, and plan to open one in Chester-le-Street in the early part of this year. CrossFit is really growing in popularity as it harnesses the natural camaraderie, competition and fun of sport and can be totally geared to the individual’s personal abilities. This is always a busy time of the year for anyone involved in the leisure business as we all try to lose the excess pounds we have acquired over the Christmas period, so we expect a lot of new members over the next few weeks.”

The CrossFit brand is a class-based core strength conditioning programme. Lee Howe is one of Europe’s top CrossFit competitors and will be actively involved in the business as regional head coach and co-owner.

Swinburne Maddison’s commercial team has assisted with legal work, including the provision of shareholder agreements and advice on joint venture relationships, but in particular, the development of commercial lease agreements for each of the new facilities.

Victoria Walton, partner at Swinburne Maddison, which employs 39 staff, said: “Joanne was looking for a local firm of commercial lawyers with a professional yet flexible approach that could be trusted to provide a wide range of advice and support. We were delighted she selected Swinburne Maddison for the job and look forward to assisting her as demand grows for CrossFit and more facilities are opened.”

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