Joanne McCue has plans to operate from Darlington Mowden Park's new home

The Northern Echo: HAPPIER TIMES: Duncan Bannatyne and his former wife, Joanne, pictured in 2009 HAPPIER TIMES: Duncan Bannatyne and his former wife, Joanne, pictured in 2009

DUNCAN Bannatyne's former wife is setting up her own gym less than two miles from the headquarters of the Dragons' Den star's fitness empire.

Joanne McCue, whose divorce was finalised at the end of January, is understood to have agreed a deal with Darlington Mowden Park Rugby Club, which took over the former Darlington FC stadium earlier this year, to lease space for a fitness centre.

Mr Bannatyne operates more than 60 clubs across the country under the Bannatyne Health Club banner and has more than 180,000 members, according to its website.

It is a business that, among other ventures, has seen him amass a fortune which the Sunday Times estimated last year to be worth £85m.

That was considerably less than the figure just a year earlier, something Mr Bannatyne has blamed in part on his acrimonious divorce from Ms McCue, 47.

Last month he took to the social networking site, Twitter, to launch a broadside at his ex-wife after their separation was finalised.

Mr Bannatyne wrote, among other things: "Just received my Decree Absolute by email, isn't that nice."

He also suggested the cost of his divorce had forced him to make job losses within his company.

Ms McCue married the 64-year-old in 2006. It was his second marriage and they have two children.

Last night she remained tight-lipped about the venture, which will be in Neasham Road - walking distance from Mr Bannatyne's premises in Haughton Road.

The Northern Echo understands that she plans to launch the gym next month and that it will be aimed at a broad section of the market, with an emphasis on fitness classes.

The gym will form part of Mowden's ambitious efforts to revitalise the 25,000-seat Northern Echo Arena, which was mothballed for almost a year after the football club departed following a fans' takeover.

Darlington Boxing and Martial Arts Academy is also moving to the stadium, and plans to host the Arena's first boxing match this month.

There are also plans to convert a 17-acre plot of land near the stadium into training pitches for the club's junior teams.

Ms McCue is reported to have booked a corporate box, using the name Joanne Bannatyne, for Mowden's first match at the Arena last weekend, which saw the home side beat Bromsgrove by 62 points to seven.

The gym, meanwhile, will be the latest addition to Darlington's booming health club industry.

A month-long refurbishment of the town's council-run Dolphin Centre gym got underway this week.

Mr Bannatyne declined to comment when approached.

Comments (8)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

8:39pm Sat 9 Feb 13

hottopic says...

Made me chuckle
Made me chuckle hottopic
  • Score: 0

9:35pm Sat 9 Feb 13

Consett87 says...

Married Duncan for the money
Married Duncan for the money Consett87
  • Score: 1

9:47pm Sat 9 Feb 13

Kilma- says...

what a **** haha
what a **** haha Kilma-
  • Score: 0

11:59pm Sat 9 Feb 13

johnny_p says...

Because it's easy to make money from a gym. You just open the doors and the money pours in. Like all the cafes and restaurants which open then close six months later.

I don't even think her ex husband is making too much money from the fitness business. Why does she think she can do it? Bloody naive!
Because it's easy to make money from a gym. You just open the doors and the money pours in. Like all the cafes and restaurants which open then close six months later. I don't even think her ex husband is making too much money from the fitness business. Why does she think she can do it? Bloody naive! johnny_p
  • Score: 2

8:02am Sun 10 Feb 13

greenfinger says...

using his money to set up some competition rotfl haha. he'll be seeting you know what he's like haha. good on the woman, maybe she could hire some of the people he made redundant!
using his money to set up some competition rotfl haha. he'll be seeting you know what he's like haha. good on the woman, maybe she could hire some of the people he made redundant! greenfinger
  • Score: -3

8:42am Sun 10 Feb 13

BMD says...

She is just trying to rub the salt in.

I imagine Duncan Bannatyne is no fool; he will have squirreled away plenty of equity to ensure he has a comfortable lifestyle.

The best way for Duncan to react, is to wish her well in the new venture, sit-back and watch her business fail. Darlington Stadium is not a location where any business has thrived, but he has the business experience and contacts to rebuild his empire, if I was a betting man, I know who I would back!
She is just trying to rub the salt in. I imagine Duncan Bannatyne is no fool; he will have squirreled away plenty of equity to ensure he has a comfortable lifestyle. The best way for Duncan to react, is to wish her well in the new venture, sit-back and watch her business fail. Darlington Stadium is not a location where any business has thrived, but he has the business experience and contacts to rebuild his empire, if I was a betting man, I know who I would back! BMD
  • Score: 1

9:08am Sun 10 Feb 13

greenfinger says...

He's too old now and he's clearly taken his eye off the ball. claiming his pension next year while his ex wife will be playing with some young stud.
He's too old now and he's clearly taken his eye off the ball. claiming his pension next year while his ex wife will be playing with some young stud. greenfinger
  • Score: -3

4:12pm Sun 10 Feb 13

chas says...

Good luck Joanne. I hope you slay the miserable dragon.
Good luck Joanne. I hope you slay the miserable dragon. chas
  • Score: -1

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree