THE gym chain owned by Scots entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne has underlined its appetite for continuing expansion as it reported a near-60 per cent rise in underlying profits, boosted by an increase in membership.

Bannatyne Group, which has 71 outlets across the UK, reported a profit before exceptional items of £14.3m, up 57% on 2016. It cited the impact of a 7.4% rise in membership to 211,715, as well as the benefit from increased spa income and a focus on operational efficiency.

Turnover at the group, which has 11 facilities in Scotland, climbed to a record £117.6m, up from £112.2m in 2016.

The growth came on the back of an investment programme in the last two years, which included expenditure of £14m in its estate and £2.4m on maintenance in 2017.

The company acquired four further sites last year, spending £600,000 on a new gym in Aberdeen. And it invested £2.6m to open a further nine spas, which are usually located in the same building at its health clubs, taking to its total to 46. That helped revenue from spa operations climb by more than 13% to £16.5m.

Chief executive Justin Musgrove said the results offer a “clear demonstration that our strategy is delivering and that the investment over the past two years is driving strong returns.”

He added: “The Bannatyne Group is seeking expand further through both organic growth as our current reinvested estate potential is realised and by careful acquisition. We are excited about prospects for 2018 which has started well with over 19,000 new members, another record, signed up to date.”

Mr Bannatyne, who shot to fame as one of the investors on BBC TV programme Dragons’ Den, established the company in 1997, when it opened its first club on Teeside. The group now employs around 3,000 staff.