What’s in a name?

Graham Webb and Steve Butters
Graham Webb and Steve Butters

A long-established Leyland businessman has fallen victim to the wrath of industry top dogs, and been forced to change the name of his firm.

Graham Webb, who has run Easy-Fit Personal Training with Steve Butters for 10 years, has been accused by international company the easyGroup, which runs the likes of easyJet, of using the ‘easy’ name without authorisation.

But Graham, who operates his business from inside FX Leisure on Thurston Road in Leyland, argues it is ‘unfair’ for industry giants to have so much influence over small businesses.

“We are not trying to pass off their name as ours,” he said. “I do feel this is unfair.

“It still amazes me that a company is entitled to trademark a word that is used in every day language, such as ‘easy’, and enforce this even when they are not offering a competing service.

“We know that easyGym has been created by the easyGroup, but it was established long after Easy-Fit and they are certainly not competing for the same customers that we have here in Leyland.

“This is just another example of how the giants of industry can squash the little guys and seriously damage a small business.”

The duo, who employ 60 personal trainers across the North West, with three based in Leyland, said the costs of fighting to keep the name in court meant they had to back down, and have decided to rename the company as Pro-Fit Training.

Still, they have had to spend more than £2,000 re-branding the company, on marketing materials and a new website.

Going forward, Graham is confident that the 500 clients already signed up will stay with the firm, but he has concerns about attracting new customers without the long-established Easy-Fit name.

easyGym, which has sites in Birmingham, Cardiff, London, Slough, Southampton and Wood Green, was set up in 2010, following in the footsteps of easyHolidays, easyCars, easyHotel, easyMoney, easyJobs and easyMobile.

A spokesman for easyGroup chairman Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou said: “The easyGroup takes its rights and responsibilities for the ‘easy’ name very seriously.

“We will protect our business partners who have made a legitimate financial investment in the brand as part of their commercial strategy.

“It is simply unacceptable and unfair for others to use it as they please – free, gratis and for nothing.

“The ‘easy’ name is synonymous with quality, value for money services and we also have a duty to protect the public from its unauthorised use.”