Rosemary Conley’s lifestyle firms close as TV channel drains coffers

 

The diet guru Rosemary Conley has seen her lifestyle and magazine companies forced into administration due to declining popularity and overstretching her brand by launching a television channel.

The author and presenter has sold millions of books and fronted many successful shows in her career – but Rosemary Conley Food and Fitness, which sells slimming and health products, and its sister company Quorn House Publishing have now appointed administrators to seek investors to help “move the businesses forward”.

Ms Conley, 67, said yesterday that it had been a “difficult decision” to make and that she herself had not drawn a salary for several months – but she insisted that production on  her magazines would relaunch “as soon as possible”, tweeting last night: “We are already speaking to a prospective investor.”

Ms Conley said the company, based in the Leicestershire village of Quorn, had gone under owing “well under £1m” to suppliers. She said she hoped the companies would get most of this money back.

Ms Conley added: “It’s a day which the team and I have worked incredibly hard to try to avoid but the board and I believe that this is the most responsible course of action to take. We hope that the process of administration will give us more options and help us to transform the business through new investment.”

Production has been suspended on the company’s magazine, with six redundancies expected. The firm said the appointment of administrators would allow it to be restructured in a positive way for “all stakeholders”, rather than liquidation or bankruptcy, which would involve a breakup of the business and the sale of assets.

Rosemary Conley fitness classes, which are operated across the country by independent franchisees, are not affected by the administration process. Much of the financial problems in the Rosemary Conley Food and Fitness are attributed to the cost of launching a dedicated television channel – which failed to make returns after a £1m investment and had been “draining resources for a number of years”, according to the company. In a statement, it said that the magazine arm of the  business, Quorn House Publishing Ltd, also struggled, with a slump in sales blamed for the company’s financial problems.

Mrs Conley, who has written a number of health books and presented many fitness films, was made a CBE in 2004 and given the Freedom of the City of Leicester in 2009.

Born in 1946 to Celia, a housewife entrepreneur, and Oswald, a hosiery wholesaler, she started her first business in 1971 with an investment of £8, selling it a decade later for £52,000.

In 1988 that her Hip and Thigh Diet book sold more than 2 million copies and cemented her as one Britain’s most revered fitness gurus in a market that has continued to battle in volatile conditions. She now lives near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, with her husband and business partner Mike Rimmington.

Mark Hopkins of Elwell and Watchorn and Saxton, who has been appointed joint administrator, said: “The board has taken a responsible decision, going into early administration creates a restructuring opportunity. Sadly the process involves some difficult decisions including [making] employees redundant.”

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