The Darlington-headquartered Bannatyne Group has appointed a new person to lead the company.

Karen Wilkinson has worked with them for almost 15 years and will now take responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the whole Group, including hotels, health clubs and spas, as well as the head office.

Karen, who graduated from Loughborough University with a degree in Sports Science, Recreational Management and Physical Education, joined the Bannatyne Group as national spa manager in 2007 and was appointed group head of spa in 2012 and later as group CX and spa director.

She has an extensive background in leading leisure organisations, managing complex operational programmes and successfully led the opening of 15 new spas.

Duncan Bannatyne, chief executive and executive chairman of the group said: “Karen has been a loyal and extremely competent colleague who brought experience, skills and a new perspective when she was originally appointed to the Board.

“Her knowledge of the business is second to none and she is the ideal person to oversee its operations.

"I look forward to working closely with her as the company recovers from the effects of the pandemic and three lockdowns and we look to a bright and successful future.”

Karen Wilkinson said: “I am proud to be continuing my career with the Bannatyne Group in this new and exciting role.

“It’s been a difficult 16 months or so for everyone, but the majority of our members have been incredibly loyal. I am looking forward to continue working with Duncan, the challenges ahead as we continue to recover from the Covid pandemic and bringing my own approach to the business.”

With 69 sites across the UK the health clubs have more than 210,000 members and employ more than 3,000 people.

The health clubs chain is now in its 22nd year, having started in 1997 with the first club on Teesside.

The idea was born following a skiing accident after which Duncan Bannatyne needed regular exercise to recover.

Now he also runs Bannatyne Hotels, which operates the Bannatyne Hotel and Maxine’s Restaurant in Darlington, The Bannatyne Spa Hotel in Hastings, Bannatyne’s Charlton House hotel in Shepton Mallet, and the Bannatyne Hotel in Durham.