Former Newcastle Falcons player Richard Metcalfe has secured £250,000 of investment for his sports and leisurewear firm.
Orion Teamwear designs and manufactures clothing and accessories for professional and amateur sports teams and has received investment from the Finance for Business North East Growth Fund, via NEL Fund Managers, to use as working capital.
Mr Metcalfe set up the firm seven years ago and it now works with schools, universities and sports clubs across the country, as well as a number of individual retailers who have exclusive school uniform and teamwear supply agreements.
Orion employs 11 people at its Newcastle headquarters and boasts its own in-house design team which prepares bespoke arrangements.
Mr Metcalfe played for both Newcastle Falcons and Northampton RFC, and won 11 Scotland caps, before a serious knee injury finished his 10-year career.
He said: “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.”
Mr Metcalfe is now aiming to increase Orion’s turnover by 50% every year for the next four years, and expects to grow the workforce at the Newcastle base.
Chris Parker, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, added: “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.”
The Finance for Business North East Growth Fund forms part of the wider £125m Finance for Business North East Fund.
Managed by North East Finance and supported by the European Investment Bank and the European Regional Development Fund 2007-13, the fund has a five-year life span.
NEL is looking to make around 130 investments over the five-year period and is looking to speak to ambitious north east companies with robust business plans.