DUNCAN Bannatyne has said he will not open another business in Scotland over what he called Nicola Sturgeon's "absolutely ridiculous" decision to keep gyms closed till mid-September.

The former star of TV show Dragon's Den, who employs 600 people across 11 health clubs in Scotland, warned of mass lay-offs within his network.

He has said it was "unbelievable" that the First Minister considered it safe to reopen pubs, bingo halls and bowling alleys but not health clubs.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon revealed an "indicative date" of September 14 for gyms reopening, although that would be reviewed in three weeks and the date could be brought forward to August 30.

She said on Thursday: "I absolutely understand and share the desire to see the facilities open again as soon as possible. However, the clinical advice I have is because of the nature of these particular environments, they do pose a particular risk and they require a particularly cautious approach."

Mr Bannatyne said Ms Sturgeon and her officials had not bothered to see for themselves the safety measures in place, arguing that she was only interested in independence.

The Scottish entrepreneur said he would "never again" open a business north of the Border, adding: "I don't know if many people would."

He told the Daily Telegraph that his health clubs in Scotland have enough funding to stay solvent until the end of August, as they are cross-subsidised by his English gyms, but he could not provide any guarantees for September.

But he in a separate statement, he warned of cuts.

He said:"There's 11 clubs in Scotland and 600 employees - we'd have to lay them all off, if we can't open, say by the end of August. There's no point in us continuing to try and support them.

"We were very happy to close down when we were told in March -but now is the time to reopen again and I think we should be allowed to reopen very soon, if not today.

"It would be more damaging to open and close down again but I can't see any reason not to open and stay open.

"When you compare us for example to pubs, where people are talking to each other and getting drunk, people come to health clubs for very different reasons. The danger is very small compared to pubs and even supermarkets."

The PureGym chain, has also said it was "truly extraordinary" that the First Minister had "not ascribed any real priority to working with us and our sector" during the pandemic.