TYCOON Dave Whelan saw his latest retail and gym empire double its profits in 2015.
He may be turning 80 later this year and have relinquished his chairmanship of Wigan Athletic, but the multi-millionaire is still showing a shrewd business brain and ability to grow a company as rivals falter.
Pre-tax profits for Pemberton-based DW Sports Fitness rocketed to £8.2m in the year to March 29: up from £4.1m in 2014.
It wasn’t so much increasing revenues which helped make the figures so impressive - they only rose by 2.6 per cent to £154.4m - but rather lower debt interest payments and lower impairment charges.
The holding company Dave Whelan Sports Ltd operated 71 gyms and 74 stores last year, including Latics’ club shop.
It has been another remarkable chapter in the story of the former footballer-turned businessman.
At the end of his active sporting career, Mr Whelan first built up a small chain of supermarkets which he then sold to Morrison’s with the intention of retiring. But he admits he soon got bored and so bought a sport and fishing tackle shop in Wigan town centre called JJB Sports which in the ensuing years he established as the country’s biggest sports retailer.
He sold his shares in JJB nine years ago but when his former empire went into terminal decline he set up DW Sports Fitness in part to rescue dozens of ex-JJB stores.
The latest accounts filed at Companies House show that turnover at the fitness clubs went down slightly to £82.5m from £84.1m. But this was more than compensated for by the shops, turnover climbing from £66.3m to £71.9m.