DR specialist to lead Fitness First legal team
The head of dispute resolution service WISDOMdr has just landed the top legal job at Fitness First.
Tony Dempsey (pictured), a professional Rugby Union player turned lawyer, has joined the health club chain to run its legal department of four lawyers.
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He will stay on at WISDOMdr as an owner, handing over responsibility for the everyday running of the business to a panel of mediators.
Dempsey established WISDOMdr in 2010 with former Herbert Smith Freehills lawyer David Vaux. Prior to co-founding the dispute resolution business, Dempsey was CEO and general counsel of the Australian Rugby Union Players Association and, before that, a lawyer at Clayton Utz.
Fitness First advertised the position late last year and attracted around 180 candidates.
Dempsey, a member of Fitness First for 13 years, told Lawyers Weekly he is excited about starting his new role at a time when the company is reinventing itself.
“It’s an exciting time to be involved in an organisation that has a clear direction and strategy and a lot of new staff with energy and enthusiasm,” he said.
Fitness First recently announced it was overhauling its brand and business with a $5 million marketing campaign and a $40 million investment in its gyms, products and services in Australia.
The move follows a change in ownership in 2012. UK private equity group BC Partners sold the debt-laden business to Oaktree Capital Management, a global asset management firm that also owns the Nine Network and Billabong.
The sale prompted a $910 million financial restructuring of Fitness First in 2013, which saw the chain sell off 24 of its 97 Australian gyms.