Instructor’s shock as Conley franchise fails

Joanne Matthews SUS-140506-093216001
Joanne Matthews SUS-140506-093216001

Eastbourne fitness instructor Joanne Matthews has spoken out about her shock after the Rosemary Conley Diet and Fitness Franchise went into administration.

Joanne was one of 121 franchisees who paid thousands to buy into the fitness guru’s exercise scheme and were shocked when the business collapsed earlier this year, leaving many instructors with serious debt.

Joanne, who worked for the company for eight years, said, “It was becoming very expensive – I’d have to pay £1,000 a month in franchise fees and teach a minimum of nine classes a week. With those fees and renting the space. I’d have to take more than £100 each class before I made any money.

“We went to a convention and they were talking about launching this new diet and re-branding the company, which was supposed to be really exciting. Just a few weeks later, they went into administration, without any warning.

“We asked them if there were any financial difficulties and they said any problems were just a normal part of the re-branding process. They must have known they were in trouble but continued letting people spend thousands buying into the business.

“I had around 250 active members when I used to teach Rosemary Conley’s classes but when you’re no longer a franchisee, you cannot keep in touch with those clients. Now I teach my own fitness classes but I only have about 40-50 active members. I lost a lot of customers because I wasn’t allowed to keep in touch with them according to the franchise’s rules.”

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.

Joanne now runs five classes a week in the Eastbourne, Hailsham, Polegate and Langney districts. For information on her classes, visit her website at, find the JM Fitness Facebook page or email