Two Banbury fitness instructors have spoken out after their finances were wrecked when a Rosemary Conley Diet and Fitness Franchise they bought into went into administration.
Mother-of-two Wendy Fell was advised by financial advisers to re-mortgage her house to raise £26,000 to pay for a Diet and Fitness franchise which allowed instructors to start classes using the Rosemary Conley name.
However, within four weeks of launching her business in January the firm went into administration leaving Mrs Fell heavily in debt and her business in doubt.
Mrs Fell said: “I felt physically sick. My family is just devastated. We took a loan which is crippling us now. I was totally devastated but you still have to walk into class and smile.”
Mrs Fell said she has been informed by solicitors she could get as little as £3,000 once administrators have sold off the assets and that legal fees would be prohibitive to making any challenge.
She said the franchises were told financial difficulties with the firm were simply part of a re-branding process.
She said: “On the last day of the training we spent the day with Rosemary and I asked her personally if there were any difficulties with the business and she assured me about the future of the business.”
Despite her financial loss Mrs Fell and her husband are continuing their classes under their own Gym Dodgers brand, delivering classes in Brackley, Middleton Cheney, Bicester and soon Banbury.
Madeline Withers from Banbury had a similar experience, sinking £26,000 into the Diet and Fitness franchise – half of which was bequeathed to her by her mother before she died of cancer.
She said: “When we found out they had gone into administration it was like grieving for my mum all over again because she worked so hard for her money and would have been so proud of me spending it on the fitness business.”
But Mrs Withers said she still believes passionately in the brand of diet and fitness classes and is continuing to teach under the banner of Club Vitality, who have now purchased the brand.
Mark Hopkins, representing Elwell Watwchorn and Saxton, as joint administrator for Rosemary Conley, said those who feel they have lost money are entitled to submit claims but added that payouts will depend on resources available to re-distribute to creditors.
Franchise holders have also been offered the opportunity to take up franchises with Club Vitality Ltd, which as of Tuesday took over the Rosemary Conley Diet and Fitness brand.