Bad Boy expands European sales from North East base

North Tyneside mixed martial arts brand Bad Boy says growing interest in MMA sports across European is fuelling demand for its products

John Paul Gardner of martial arts group Bad Boy Europe
John Paul Gardner of martial arts group Bad Boy Europe

A fitness brand franchise based in North Tyneside says the rising popularity of mixed martial arts in countries such as France, Germany and Sweden is helping to grow its exports.

Bad Boy Europe, which employs 40 and is headquartered in Whitley Bay, says £2m of its £3m annual turnover is attributable to European export sales.

The firm specialise in training products for martial arts athletes and operate stores in Whitley Bay and the Metrocentre store along with a training centre in Felling.

Chief executive officer John Paul Gardner, who is also co-owner of Bad Boy USA, founded the Bad Boy Europe franchise in 2010.

He has grown the firm from its North East base, where all design, marketing and resourcing activity takes place.

Gardner credits its success to the increased popularity of MMA in countries such as France, Germany and Sweden.

Bad Boy currently sells into 29 European countries from its 20,000 sq ft warehouse.

The brand provides fitness wear and equipment for all sporting abilities including specialist ranges for boxing, various martial arts, women’s sportswear and equipment, Crossfit, weightlifting, bodybuilding and sports nutrition as well as an extensive lifestyle clothing line.

Gardner said: “We have had exponential growth in recent years by branching into sports and areas which other brands do not cater for. We have a large stock range with a variety of price points from hardwear, women’s specific ranges, everyday gym wear and specialist kit for athletes.

“We’ve received incredible order quantities across Europe for our Sphere Compression Range which is not only suitable for martial art but ideal for other athletes like cyclists and runners.”

Gardner spends more than 100 days a year growing the business in European markets with plans to expand into the Middle East and Asia.

He added: “Having a strong team is the key to successful growth and progress. Expanding into other markets is fantastic, but Bad Boy Europe is firmly rooted in the North East and we are keen to grow the UK business as much as possible, including our training centre and store.”

Bad Boy Europe is a hub for mixed martial arts (MMA) and Brazilian jui jitsui (BJJ) athletes as well as professionals who are sponsored by the Bad Boy brand.

September 2013 saw Bad Boy Europe launch the first ever Official Bad Boy Store in the world, at Intu Metrocentre, Gateshead. From there, it recently opened the Bad Boy Training Centre (BBTC) in Felling.

The BBTC is a social enterprise which offers free nutrition advice to members of the community, as well as a range of free fitness and exercise classes. The centre sports a fully functional gym, full scale boxing ring and fight cage, top-of-the range training equipment and qualified fitness professionals from various martial arts and bodybuilding backgrounds.

San Diego-based Bad Boy made a name for itself in the early nineties by sponsoring Rickson Gracie, son of the legendary founder of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Helio Gracie, for a seminar that he was giving in Rio de Janeiro. The seminar made the cover story in a national magazine and the cover photo featured Rickson Gracie wearing a Bad Boy Kimono.

The brand also sells skate, surf and motorcross wear, billing itself as an “action sports” label.

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