Our Team

Empowered Brands is led by a team of highly effective and innovative entrepreneurs and former Chief Executive’s who have a track record of leading very successful enterprises and corporations. They have developed global brands and are experienced in building brand value and in bringing companies successfully to market.

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Jan Spaticchia, the founder of Empowered Brands, was born on 24 October 1969 and died of cancer on 9 May 2021. 

CEO

Peter Croney is an entrepreneur with a successful track record in owning and building businesses in the corporate retailing and leisure sectors. A strategic thinker with decades of commercial experience Peter has been the architect of Energie franchise sales and development strategy since 2006.

 

Working alongside former Energie CEO Jan Spaticchia Peter played a significant role in building the value of the Energie business leading up to a successful sale to private equity operator Bridges Ltd.

 

In 2020 Peter, as director and shareholder of Empowered Brands Ltd (EBL) helped deliver a successful MBO of the Energie Franchise Group. Since the MBO Peter as deputy CEO of Empowered Brands Ltd has focussed on product growth and franchise expansion.

 

Following the untimely death of EBL chairman Jan Spaticchia Peter accepted an invitation from the  EBL Board to lead the company as CEO.

Peter is a keen fitness enthusiast. Having had a brief spell as a professional footballer, Peter has maintained his love of the game and is a proud member of the over 60’s English Football team.

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Pietro Nicholls

Chairman

Pietro Nicholls leads the equities and alternative real assets business at RM Funds, see profile below. He is the lead portfolio manager of the VT RM Alternative Income fund, the VT RM Global Real Opportunities fund, and the co-founder and co-manager of the £130m market cap London Stock Exchange listed investment trust, RM Secured Direct Lending PLC.

 

Mr Nicholls started his career at Bear Stearns, working at JP Morgan and Barclays Corporate & Investment Banking. Before joining RM Funds Pietro advised FTSE 350 companies, large private corporates and government entities on financing, M&A and derivatives. Over the last five years he has advised-on and or invested on-behalf of pension schemes, insurance companies and family offices over £1.5bn of capital across a range of asset classes and industries including digital infrastructure, renewables energy and health & social care businesses.

 

Pietro is a member of the investment committee and holds seats on the board of the parent company RM Capital Markets, and various external businesses including Empowered Brands, the parent company of énergie Fitness.

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Peter Croney
 
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Steve Philpott

Non-Executive Director 

Steve has been a high profile leader in the fitness industry for over 20 years.

Prior to this he was a Marketing Director at Whitbread PLC promoting some of the country’s biggest beer brands Stella Artois, Boddingtons and Heineken with multi million pound budgets. In the mid 90s he drove the acquisitions of Costa Coffee & David Lloyd Leisure for Whitbread and subsequently as MD he led the rapid expansion of David Lloyd. Costa Coffee was acquired for around £20m and sold to Coca-Cola for $4.9 billion in 2019. David Lloyd was acquired for around £200m and sold in 2007 for around £1 billion.

After a year as CEO of the AIM Listed Crown Sports PLC and working with Jan Spaticchia starting énergie, Steve led the PE backed MBO of DC Leisure as CEO successfully selling it to Places for People in 2012 making a x4.2 multiple, 36% IRR.

He has served as a Director/Trustee of the FIA (now UKactive), the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport Physical Activity and was a founder trustee of the Register of Exercise Professionals. Steve is also Non-Exec Chair of Mosaic Spa & Health Clubs which manages leisure facilities in hotels, a role he has held for 6 years.

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Fintan Donohue, OBE

Non-Executive Director 

Fintan Donohue is the former chief executive of the Gazelle group, the first UK college conglomerate to embrace entrepreneurship as a driver for economic change and student self-employment. Backed by legendary entrepreneurs such as Sir Richard Branson Luke Johnson and Will King the Gazelle Group brought disruption, innovation and enterprise into the public sector. Fintan was awarded the OBE in 2016 for this pioneering work.

 As a change management consultant he has worked successfully as an associate partner with USA based StratSphere limited Ltd to deliver leadership programs for clients such as Lockheed Martin In international settings.

 As owner and director of success through leadership Fintan now works closely with a small number of ambitious companies to build strategic capacity, deliver reputational value, build brand recognition and embed values-based culture.

 His primary role as a non-executive director with empowered brands is to evaluate the entrepreneurial strength and brand propensity of any new venture to add value to the Empower brand community.

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Eve Gonsalves

General Counsel 

Eve is a dual qualified (UK and New Zealand) senior lawyer with 20 years PQE, who has expanded the skills exemplified by the profession in Senior Management roles across a range of sectors, projects and disciplines. Highly versatile, a true business partner with the ability to deliver strategic priorities.  Eve’s career started in New Zealand where she assisted the nation’s primary telecommunications provider to effect the country’s largest infrastructure rollout and BP to rapidly expand both its wholesale and dealer channels. When she moved to the UK, she led the legal team which spearheaded the UK’s first consolidation of network infrastructure between two telecommunications giants, EE Limited and Hutchison 3G UK Limited. This remains the most long standing and successful joint venture of its kind to this day.

 

Eve is a dynamic, multi-skilled Executive with a track record of transformational contributions to international companies. She brings with her a wealth of experience in terms of commercial property deals, commercial and procurement contracts, corporate governance, compliance and joint venture relationships. Her notable strengths include balancing and navigating commercial risk with operational delivery. As a director and active board member for the énergie brand Eve has been pivotal in guiding the business through two major corporate transitions over the past two years. Eve is passionate about excellence, innovation and helping others to reach their true potential.

 

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John Jempson

Finance Director 

John has held senior finance roles across the retailing, fitness and hospitality sectors.  He has a proven track record within private equity backed businesses and specialises in cost reduction, streamlining processes and growth through dynamic commercial strategies.  He has led large projects delivering significant cost savings and made a key contribution to the doubling of EBITDA to £36m in his 6 years at TGI Fridays. 

A strong coach and mentor, he believes in the people-led strategies that enabled TGI Fridays to be named the Sunday Times ‘Best Company to Work For’ in 2015.  As Finance Director of énergie Fitness, John led the completion of 2 private equity deals within the space of 12 months.  John is committed to taking Empowered Brands Limited to the highest levels of financial performance over the next decade.

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Rod Hill

Managing Director, International

 

Rod is a veteran of the fitness industry with 30 years experience in international fitness markets.  After beginning his career as a trainer at Fitness First in 1992 at their first club in Bournemouth, Rod was part of the team that developed the business from 1 club to over 400 clubs globally.  With this wealth of international experience under his belt, Rod relocated to Barcelona in 2007 and has developed international projects in Spain in recent years including setting up the Viva Gym business in 2010 and also bringing the master franchise of Anytime Fitness to Spain which achieved 60 club openings last year.  Rod was a co-founder of TRIB3 International, the UK boutique model and launched their first clubs in Madrid and Barcelona whilst also setting up master franchise agreements in China.  Rod joined énergie late in 2020 in the role of Managing Director, énergie International Limited and – at the same time – signed up for the Master Franchise license for Spain along with business partners, George Houtenbos and Eric Kakabeen.  The Spanish team are planning to open 75 énergie clubs over the next 10 years across Spain.

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Neil King

Managing Director, UK Subsidiary

Neil has extensive experience in senior executive positions across both the private and public sectors of the health and fitness industry, both in the UK and Mainland Europe.

Neil has exceptional expertise in the Marketing and Branding field, having led the rebrand of the US private equity backed, 1Life Management Solutions for 4 years. Prior to this, he was Commercial Director at Everyone Active where he grew the business from 20 outlets to over 100, winning the ukactive ‘Operator of the Year’ award for 3 consecutive years. Once again, he was responsible for the creation and development of the Everyone Active Brand and culture of the organisation. In addition to this, he has worked internationally to build Balance Fitness (which subsequently became Elixia Health Clubs) rolling out 50 clubs in 2 years across 6 European countries. 

Since joining énergie Fitness, Neil was instrumental in defining the current énergie fitness product and in rebranding the énergie Fit4less network with a linked, award-winning, campaign to position the business as a pioneering ‘low cost, high service’ operator. Most recently, he’s been integral to the creation of the new ‘énergie online’ platform and is leading the development of the future omni-channel fitness experience: ‘indoor, outdoor and online’.  He currently operates énergie Fitness in the UK and Ireland.

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RM Funds

Empowered Brands is backed by RM Funds which is an alternative asset management business. Founded in 2010, with offices in London and Edinburgh, the firm manages capital on behalf of institutional investors, multi-asset allocators, family offices and retail investors. Since inception the business has transacted in excess of £50 billion of assets, and advised and or originated, structured and managed over £1.5bn of sterling assets and over €700m in European assets.

 

RM Funds is a CBILS delivery partner of the UK’s economic development bank, the British Business Bank. The Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme (CBILS) is managed by the British Business Bank on behalf of, and with the financial backing of the Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

 

RM Funds is the Investment Manager and founder of RM Secured Direct Lending PLC, a London Stock Exchange listed Investment Company founded to generate attractive risk-adjusted returns. RM Funds is a trading name of RM Capital Markets Limited. FCA authorised and regulated. For more information please visit, www.rm-funds.co.uk

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