A sports and leisurewear firm founded by a former Newcastle Falcons player is upping its game after securing new investment from the Finance For Business North East Growth Fund.
Orion Teamwear design and manufacture teamwear, leisurewear and accessories for both professional and amateur sports teams, and has an in-house design team to allow for bespoke and themed kit to be manufactured to clients’ specific requirements.
It was set up seven years ago by Richard Metcalfe, who played for both Newcastle Falcons and Northampton RFC, and won 11 Scotland caps before a serious knee injury finished his ten-year professional career.
Richard returned to the North East to set up his business, which currently employs 11 people at its Newcastle headquarters.
It works with schools, universities and sports clubs right across the UK, and has recently increased its relationships with a number of individual retailers who have exclusive school uniform and teamwear supply agreements.
Recent investments in design and equipment facilities mean that a 20-shirt kit can now be designed, manufactured and delivered in just ten days.
Orion Teamwear worked with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers to secure a £250,000 Growth Fund investment, which will be used to provide the working capital required to increase the number and size of orders that it can accept and complete.
Richard Metcalfe is now aiming to increase Orion’s turnover by 50% every year for the next four years, and will be adding new people to its 11-strong Newcastle workforce as operations expand.
He says: “I knew I wanted to stay involved with sport when I finished my professional career, and using my knowledge of what sportspeople need from their kit seemed an ideal way of doing this.
“The business has grown well over the years, but because we operate to quite long lead times, we need to maintain a healthy cashflow, and we’d reached the point where we were having to turn orders down solely because we didn’t have the resources needed to take them on.
“The capital we’ve now brought in solves this problem, and we’ll be looking to achieve controlled, organic growth over the next few years which will help us make a step-change in our operations and create new North East jobs on the back of the growth we’re expecting.
“NEL were recommended to us and the team made the whole investment process as easy as possible – they helped us understand what we needed to do to be successful and worked closely with us to get us over the line.”
Chris Parker, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “Richard’s personal knowledge of what sports teams need provides the basis for what’s already a very successful business, and the capital we’ve provided will enable the firm to further enhance its operating capacity.”
Aimed at regional businesses which are at a development and growth stage, the Growth Fund forms part of the wider Finance for Business North East Fund.
Managed by North East Finance, it will see £125m of investment capital injected into the region by the European Investment Bank and the European Regional Development Fund 2007-13 over a five year period.
NEL is looking to make around 130 investments over the five-year life span of the Growth Fund, and is actively looking to speak to ambitious north east companies with robust business plans.
For more information about NEL’s investment criteria, visit www.nel.co.uk or contact the investment team on 0845 111 1850.
The ERDF 2007-13 programme is bringing over £300m into North East England to support innovation, enterprise and business support. It will help create and safeguard 28,000 new jobs, start 3,000 new businesses and increase the region’s productivity by £1.1bn per annum.