Duncan Bannatyne, OBE (born 2 February 1949), is a Scottish entrepreneur, philanthropist and author. His business interests include hotels, health clubs, spas, media, TV, stage schools, property and transport. He is most famous for his appearance as a business angel on the BBC programme Dragons’ Den. He was appointed an OBE for his contribution to charity.
He has written seven books: Anyone Can Do It, Wake Up and Change Your Life, How to be Smart With Your Money, How to be Smart With Your Time, 43 Mistakes Businesses Make, 37 Questions Everyone in Business Needs to Answer, and Riding The Storm.
In May 2013, it was reported that Bannatyne is £122m in debt, however he says this is a company debt and the company has assets of £230m.
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Life and career
Starting in 1964 and at the age of 15, Bannatyne initially enlisted for twelve years with the Royal Navy as a junior second class engineering mechanic (stoker) at RNTE Shotley near Ipswich, better known as the boys’ training establishment HMSGanges. He served in the Navy for several years before receiving a dishonourable discharge for throwing an officer off a boat landing jetty in Scotland. In his biography he claims this was in part a reaction to this officer’s abuse of his authority, in part a dare by his shipmates and in part a way of getting out of the Navy, with which he had become disillusioned. Bannatyne was nineteen years old when this happened. After the incident he had to serve nine months in Colchester military detention centre before being discharged aged 20. He later spent ten days in Glasgow’s Barlinnie prison for not paying a £10 fine in relation to a charge of breach of the peace and resisting arrest.
After spending his twenties moving from one job to another, Bannatyne lived for a few years on the island of Jersey where he met his first wife. With Jersey’s difficult business climate for outsiders, at age 29 Bannatyne and his wife moved toStockton-on-Tees in North East England. He has stated that he was penniless and did not have a bank account until the age of 30.
His business career began almost immediately after his move to Stockton-on-Tees with an ice cream van purchased for £450. He soon expanded by buying more vans during the period of the Glasgow Ice Cream Wars about which he made comment in a newspaper interview “I got by using the CB radio. It was mainly bluster, but someone did get hospitalised.” He eventually sold the business for £28,000, founding a nursing home business called Quality Care Homes which he then sold for £26 million in 1997 and children’s nursery chain Just Learning for £12 million. Just Learning chief executive during the 1992-97 period was Michael Fallon (Sevenoaks Tory MP).
Bannatyne has since expanded into health clubs, with Bannatyne’s Health Clubs chain to his name, and also bars, hotels and property. He acquired 26 health clubs from Hilton Hotels in August 2006 at a price of £92 million. Bannatyne’s is now the largest independent chain of health clubs in the United Kingdom. In May 2010, he added the Charlton House Hotel and Spa in Somerset to the portfolio, with the view to adding more spa facilities and treatment rooms.
In October 2008, he opened the £12 million “Bannatyne Spa Hotel” in Hastings.
In December 2009, Bannatyne joined the UK’s largest monthly business magazine Business Matters as a monthly columnist alongside former Apprentice winner Michelle Dewberry.
His wealth as of 2011 was estimated at £430 million by the Sunday Times Rich List. In 2012, the Sunday Times Rich List listed him as equal 869th with a worth of £85 million. His net worth dropped because of divorce and a drop in property values at his Bannatyne Fitness chain, which made a £16.2 million loss in 2011 after exceptional one off write downs.
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