Belfast-based BLK BOX Fitness has secured a £300,000 loan from the Growth Loan Fund to invest in a new e-commerce platform to drive overseas sales, fund working capital and expand into new markets. The company is set to take on an additional 12 staff over the next 18 months as part of its growth plans.
Finance for the £50m Growth Loan Fund – which provides loans to established Northern Ireland SMEs seeking to access growth finance – has been provided by Invest Northern Ireland and private investors, Northern Ireland Local Government Officers’ Superannuation Committee (NILGOSC).
Established in 2012 by Gregory Bradley, BLK BOX Fitness specialises in the design, manufacture and delivery of strength and conditioning fitness equipment. The company has worked with businesses from a wide range of sectors, including: Google, Arsenal FC, the US Army, Jamie Oliver and Pure Gym. The company operates from a 20,000 sq ft facility in the Titanic Quarter and currently employs 24 people.
Gregory Bradley, Managing Director, said: “Having always been involved in sports, I knew I wanted to start my own fitness business when the time came to hang up my boots. I identified a gap in the market in 2012 when class-based fitness groups were taking off and there was a demand for specialist equipment. Our unique selling point is that we design and fit out gyms from start to finish – only two other companies in the UK do this and we’re the only one in Ireland to offer this service.
“The Growth Loan Fund has enabled us to grow our international footprint into new markets such as Dubai. Our staff numbers continue to increase on a monthly basis and we recently added another three people to the team. We’ve also secured a trial contract to fit out a number of Pure Gym facilities and that is a partnership we’re really excited about.”
Neil McCabe, Senior Investment Manager at WhiteRock Capital Partners, commented: “BLK BOX Fitness has become one of the most respected brands in the UK fitness industry. The sector is worth over £4.7bn and BLK BOX Fitness has managed to identify a gap in the market for high quality custom products.
“The team has worked with some of the biggest names in sport and continues to go from strength-to-strength. With several high profile contracts secured for 2018, the company is in a strong position for continued growth.”
WhiteRock Capital Partners LLP, which is authorised and regulated by the FCA, was established in 2012 to manage the Fund and is owned by a consortium of three partners – WhiteRock Finance Limited, NEL Fund Managers and Clarendon Fund Managers.
Companies seeking funding from the Growth Loan Fund must be based in Northern Ireland, demonstrating growth and generally be in the manufacturing, engineering or tradable services sectors. Loans will be typically unsecured and personal guarantees will not be sought.
The loans provided are expected to be complementary to existing sources of finance, including banks, trade finance sources and equity investors. Loans are provided on a fully commercial basis, with monthly loan repayments required over typically a five-year term. For more information about the Growth Loan Fund’s criteria please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.growthloanfund.com.
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