New investment for Europe’s largest online water sports retailer

Europe’s largest online water sports retailer, Wetsuit Outlet (the trading brand for B2C Distribution) has secured £5 million of growth capital from leading small-cap UK investors, Mobeus Equity Partners.

A major exporter worldwide, Wetsuit Outlet sells technical clothing and equipment into over 160 countries offering premium brands such as Musto, Henri Lloyd, Gill, O’Neil, Red Paddle, Crewsaver, Billabong and GUL.

The business, with headquarters in Shoeburyness in Essex, was founded 13 years ago by Ian Homan and his partner Peter Thompson. As keen water sports enthusiasts, they realised there was a gap in the market for an efficient on-line retailer delivering top brands at competitive prices. Since inception the business has delivered consistent growth, with revenues rising at over 30% per annum for the last three years.

Wetsuit Outlet

The key to the company’s continued business success has been the development of the very best software platform, ensuring the customer can confidently buy the best products at the best possible prices, with an end to end operation providing delivery from stock.

Over the years, the range of products has expanded to include practically everything that a water sports enthusiast could want from stand-up paddle boards, through to dry suits and wet weather clothing, to life jackets and snorkels. The business prides itself in offering the best brands in the market backed by an expert customer service team who have hands on experience of the range of sports covered by the company’s product lines.

The new investment will enable the company to increase its share of the global water sports market and to further expand into the USA. It also facilitates a move into other niche markets such as equestrian and fields sports using the company’s highly efficient online platform and with support from several existing suppliers.

In addition to the capital injection, a new management team has been formed to take the company forward. Following Peter Thompson’s decision to step down from the business, Ian Homan has put together a strong team to push forward the company’s expansion plans. Leading fashion retailer Peter Davies, Chairman of Mint Velvet, has taken on the role of Non-Executive Chairman with Paul Williams, ex Time Inc., as Managing Director, Sally Bendelow, ex Marks and Spencer and Next, as Head of Buying and Merchandising and Jeremey Kraft, highly experienced in ecommerce, as Chief Financial Officer.

Bob Henry, who led the deal for Mobeus Equity Partners, and will also join the new board commented: “Wetsuit Outlet has been growing very quickly for many years and we see the opportunity to build a global business, specialising in the online retail of technical sports clothing and equipment, with the recruitment of some very capable, high quality directors to supplement a demonstrably successful core management team.”

Ian Homan, co-founder and CEO added: “This new investment enables us to expand, not only in our current market, but to open- up new brands in other niche markets. Our existing platforms and expertise put us in a very strong position to do this, and with the support from Mobeus we are ready to move forward.”

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