A NORTH-EAST entrepreneur and television star has announced he will be returning to the frontline of running his health club chain.

In what he says is “the best year in the company’s history”, Duncan Bannatyne will be once more take on the role of Executive Chairman of Bannatyne Group - which has five health clubs in the region.

The businessman said the changing role follows the resignation of the existing CEO, Justin Musgrove, who has accepted a new role in a business based in the Middle-East after running the club for five years.

Mr Bannatyne said the switch will give him the opportunity to have a more “hands-on” role in the business he started 22 years ago.

He said: “The business is in great shape, turnover is at a record high and profits are strong and sustainable.

“Our members are enjoying facilities, which have been enhanced with significant investments in new equipment, new technology and a wide range of new classes and services delivered by our exceptional team.

“We now expect this long period of investment to result in a business that will maintain further growth and profits as we continue to provide the sector-leading facilities and high-quality services our members and customers expect and deserve.

“I am thrilled to be back at the frontline, leading the business at a time of great opportunity and excitement in the UK economy.

“Our CEO, Justin Musgrove, has done a great job in the last five years and we wish him well as he embarks on a new career in the Middle East.

“He leaves the business in fine fettle and I will enjoy running it again in a more ‘hands-on’ role.”

Bannatyne Group operates health clubs in Darlington, Chester-le-Street, Durham, Ingleby Barwick and Coulby Newham.

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Nationwide, the chain runs 72 health clubs, 47 Spas and four hotels.

In the year ending in December 2018, the business saw a turnover of £127.5m, an 8.5 per cent increase on the year before.

Mr Bannatyne said the business idea began in 1997 following a skiing accident in which he needed regular exercise to recover.

He could not find facilities locally and decided to use some of the proceeds from the sale of his previous business, Quality Care Homes plc, to establish the fitness chain.

Since then the businessman has became known for his appearances on the BBC television show Dragon’s Den and in 2004, the Scottish Tycoon was awarded an OBE for his work with charities including Mary’s Meals which helps hungry children in Africa.

The company now has more than 210,000 members and employs more than 3,000 people.

Mr Bannatyne added he was excited to “embark on a new career challenge during the final stage of a three year £50m investment programme re-equipping and refurbishing sites around the UK.”