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Largest énergie Ireland franchisee enters examinership

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Prime Fitness – the largest énergie franchisee in Ireland which controls eight of the chain's 14 clubs there – has entered examinership as it battles to preserve what is left of the Jackie Skelly health club chain.

Prime Fitness, which is the special purpose vehicle (SPV) set up in 2010 to take over the indebted Irish gym chain Jackie Skelly Fitness, petitioned the High Court in Dublin to appoint an interim examiner. In Irish law, examinership is a process whereby the protection of the Court is obtained to assist the survival of a company and enable it to restructure.

It is envisaged that two énergie health clubs operated by Prime Fitness – Navan and Newbridge – will close as a result of the move. A company statement said the two sites are “trading at a significant loss and all options to improve them have been exhausted.” It added that the remaining six Prime Fitness health clubs will trade as normal throughout the examinership.

énergie Group chair and CEO Jan Spaticchia told Health Club Management that despite €8m being invested into the Prime Fitness business to reinvigorate the eight clubs and service the €5m debt legacy owed to Ulster Bank by the Jackie Skelly chain, the business in its current form is unsustainable.

“The legacy of onerous leases struck in the boom of the Celtic Tiger era were continuing to hold the business back,” he said.

“The petition for examinership was designed to protect jobs by safeguarding the six sites which are profitable – we’ll also look to relocate staff wherever possible at the two sites likely to close.”

Spaticchia said that the examinership process will bring the opportunity to deal with the debt and ensure the wider Prime Fitness business can remain in operation, also opening the door to potential renegotiations with landlords over the sites’ rents.

He added that the wider business in Ireland – comprising another six clubs – is unaffected by the examinership. The licence rights for the énergie Fitness, Fit4Less and énergie Fitness for Women brands in Ireland are held by Abbey Fitness and Wellness (AFW) a subsidiary of finance house Abbey International. énergie Group – the owner of the brands – holds a small stake in the Irish business.

The High Court in Dublin has appointed Anthony Weldon of Kieran Ryan & Co as Interim Examiner.

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Prime Fitness – the largest énergie franchisee in Ireland which controls eight of the chain's 14 clubs there – has entered examinership as it battles to preserve what is left of the Jackie Skelly health club chain.
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