Saturday 18 November 2017

Gym queen Skelly loses fitness empire

Ray Managh and Michael McHale

SHE was Ireland's gym queen for more than 17 years, but yesterday she lost her crown.

Jackie Skelly broke down in tears in the High Court as lawyers hammered out a deal in which a new investor, British company Energie Fitness, took over the business empire she had built up since 1993.

Mr Justice Frank Clarke approved a takeover plan put forward by examiner Kieran Wallace that sees nine of the 10 Jackie Skelly fitness centres survive, saving most of the company's 300 workforce.

Last night a spokesman for Ms Skelly said she was "very disappointed" to be leaving the company after 17 years.

He said she was happy to have successfully seen the company come through the examinership process, saving more than 250 jobs.

He added that it was too soon to know if Ms Skelly and business partner Mark Tooke would re-enter the business world in the future, but said a non-compete clause in the examinership agreement meant that they couldn't re-enter the fitness market in the next few months.

"They've agreed to help Energie Fitness in the transition into new ownership for the next 90 days and hopefully bring confidence back to the fitness centre's customers," the spokesman said.

"It's far too early to know what they'll do next. Their entire attention has been on the examinership. As a request of the new owners they've agreed not to speak to the press for the time being."

The court heard that under the proposed takeover the investor would put in €2.3m and the company would indemnify Ms Skelly and Mr Tooke of personal guarantees they had given on various leases.

There would also be a significant reduction of the company's €12m debt to Ulster Bank, which had agreed to accept €1.17m up front with a reduced payment of €4.5m over five years.

Ms Skelly and Mr Tooke had agreed to sign a severance agreement undertaking to leave the company.

Irish Independent

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