A father and son team is riding high after attracting a six-figure investment from the Finance For Business North East Growth Fund to help widen the reach of their high-end cycling business.
Ian and Trevor Hughes are the management team behind Vielo Sports Ltd, the sole UK distributor for the specialist German road and mountain bike brand Storck and specialist wheel brand Lightweight.
The company manages a network of 42 dealer partners right across the UK from its Gateshead headquarters, and after working with NEL Fund Managers to secure a £250,000 Growth Fund investment, it is now looking to increase this number to over 50.
An increase in the volume of stock that Vielo Sports holds and an enhanced marketing campaign will also follow on from the investment, with the options for moving to larger premises also being investigated, and the company is hoping to create new jobs in the North East in the future as part of its expansion.
Ian Hughes spent 15 years establishing and running the Swiss based cycling brand Scott in the UK before starting to distribute Storck Bicycles in 2012 after being personally approached by company founder Markus Storck to help him establish the brand in the UK.
His son Trevor joined the company in 2013, and they have since together built a £750,000 turnover business, a figure they are looking to grow significantly in the next five years in a specialist market that is overall worth around £50m annually. Vielo Sports Ltd is also the largest global distributor of Storck bicycles.
The company was named as Specialist Distributor Of The Year at the industry-leading BikeBiz Awards 2015, has also now taken on the UK distribution of Lightweight Wheels, another German brand which supplies carbon fibre wheels that are manufactured to the standards used by professional cyclists.
Ian Hughes says: “My experience and contacts in the cycling industry put us in a great position to introduce the Storck brand to the UK market, and we are successfully building the Storck Brand and established it as a high quality name over the last four years.
“We’re already Storck’s largest distributor, but we think we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what can be achieved, and are now putting both the management and delivery structures in place to help us build on what we’ve done so far.
“We’re very specific about the types of dealer partners that we want in our distribution network and the sort of service they have to supply to customers buying our bikes, and we’re redoubling our search to find new places across the UK where we think there are opportunities to do more.
“NEL was mentioned to us as a possible investor by a contact, and their focused approach has given us the resources we required to realise even more of the business’s potential.”
Jane Siddle, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “The growth of the UK cycling market in the last 20 years has been nothing short of phenomenal, and Vielo Sports has the right type of high quality product to make further impressive inroads into it.”
Established by holding fund manager North East Finance (NEF) in 2010, the £159.5m Finance for Business North East (FBNE) programme is a suite of seven venture capital and loan funds which provide investment for start-up and growing businesses in the North East of England. They will continue investing until 2016, and aim to support 950 companies and to create or safeguard almost 10,000 jobs.
A new £4m extension to the Finance For Business North East Growth Fund was recently confirmed, and NEL is actively looking to speak to more North East businesses about securing investment from it to help them put development plans into action.
For more information about NEL’s investment criteria, visit www.nel.co.uk or contact the investment team on 0345 369 7007.