THE ex-wife of Dragons’ Den star Duncan Bannatyne has opened a new gym just round the corner from his health club.

Joanne Bannatyne, who divorced the Darlington-based self-made millionaire last year, has opened Crossfit Jacana on Belmont Industrial Estate, less than a mile from Bannatyne Health and Fitness.

It comes just months after Mrs Bannatyne took out a billboard-sized advert promoting her Darlington gym, Crossfit DL2, just yards from her ex-husband’s offices and health club on the town’s Haughton Road declaring: “Welcome Your New Neighbours”.

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She said: “I was the managing director of Bannatyne’s Fitness for a long time.

“I don’t want to move outside the North-East.

“Durham has a big population and it’s an obvious place to come.

“This is an industrial estate and there aren’t many around Durham.”

She said the Crossfit offer was totally different to health clubs.

Mrs Bannatyne joined Crossfit Teesside as a member in April 2012 and then got involved in the business, opening Crossfit DL2 at the Darlington Arena, Crossfit Telic in Hartlepool and Crossfit 4th Ave in Gateshead.

The new branch is named after Operation Jacana, a coalition forces offensive in Afghanistan in 2002 of which Mrs Bannatyne’s business partner Lee Howe was part.

The gym will be run by Chris Mason, who as captain of non-league Spennymoor Town lifted the FA Vase at Wembley last May.

The formerly vacant industrial unit has been converted in just three weeks, following a “significant” investment and opened its doors for the first time on Monday, January 27, creating at least six new jobs.

Having met in 1994, Mr and Mrs Bannatyne wed in 2006 and have two children.

Following their divorce, Mr Bannatyne accused his ex-wife of being a gold digger.

In response, she said he was controlling and aggressive and accused him of having a midlife crisis which caused him to crave fame and become addicted to Twitter.

Mr Bannatyne’s estimated fortune plummeted from £430m in 2011 to £85m in 2012, which he blamed partly on divorce costs. He declined to comment on his ex-wife’s latest venture.

Membership at Crossfit Jacana costs £55 per month. For more information, visit or call 07566-440044.