Home Money How two brothers with no knowledge (and no capital) built sportswear upstart Castore into a £1bn brand

How two brothers with no knowledge (and no capital) built sportswear upstart Castore into a £1bn brand

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High flying: Tom Beahon says everyone can learn to succeed in business

High flying: Tom Beahon says everyone can learn to succeed in business

High flying: Tom Beahon says everyone can learn to succeed in business

Tom Beahon is in turmoil. The 34-year-old new face has just spoken to the Prime Minister’s Business Council, made up of executives from companies including Nationwide, Lloyds Bank, Scottish Power, Rolls-Royce and Greggs. The idea is that they help Rishi Sunak take the pulse of British business – or, as Beahon puts it, “get a bird’s eye view of what’s happening in the economy”.

“I’m not a hugely political person but I’m honored to be asked,” he says in a soft Scouse accent. His appointment to the government’s advisory committee is the latest step in a short but dazzling business career.

In less than a decade, Beahon went from “mum’s kitchen table in Liverpool” – where he and his brother Phil launched sportswear brand Castore with a £25,000 loan from their parents – to what he calls “the top table” in Downing Street.

The two men are mutual partners, but it is Tom who prefers the media attention to his younger brother. Together, they grew their business into a challenger brand taking on industry titans Nike and Adidas.

Sales more than doubled last year to £115 million and – impressively for a young, fast-growing company – profits were also strong, totaling almost £15 million.

“Not many companies do that,” he smiles. The only solution is to be “obsessive,” he insists. “This can’t be just a day job. You have to live and breathe every detail of it.

Castore’s distinctive winged logo adorns England’s cricket jerseys and the kit of Formula One teams Red Bull and Newcastle United until the end of this football season.

The company has 500 employees and 25 stores, including one in Dubai. The company recently relocated its headquarters to Manchester, the former ‘Cottonopolis’ which is home to sportswear brands such as Umbro and JD Sports. A recent fundraising round valued Castore at £950m and the Beahons’ majority stake at £500m – at least on paper – after a capital injection led by investment bank Raine.

Backers include tennis star Andy Murray and brothers Issa, Mohsin and Zuber, owners of the Asda supermarket chain.

Murray is an important partner in the Beahons’ success. The two-time Wimbledon champion has had a joint venture with Castore called AMC since 2019. It makes shirts from nylon and regenerated yarns, which Murray wears exclusively on court. But it is the Issas that Beahon heaps the most praise on.

“Since my brother and I started the business, our role models have to be Mohsin and Zuber. They are the ones who supported us when it would have been easy not to,” he says.

“They wanted to help the next generation of entrepreneurs and saw that Phil and I were passionate and ambitious. They believed in us.

Having failed to become professional sportsmen – Tom was sacked by Tranmere Rovers, his local football team, Phil failed to become a Lancashire county cricketer – the Beahons’ big idea was simple: to create a premium sportswear brand to an industry in which Nike and Adidas had reigned supreme for decades.

“I can’t think of any other truly global market dominated by just two brands,” says Tom. To him, Nike and Adidas had outgrown their shoes and were now trying to please everyone.

He saw a market “ripe for disruption,” in the same way that Tesla disrupted car manufacturing and Spotify transformed music.

Support Ace: Tennis Legend Andy Murray

Support Ace: Tennis legend Andy Murray

Support Ace: Tennis Legend Andy Murray

“We thought that if we could create a premium British sportswear brand, we could attract people who were more serious about their health, training and fitness than the big brands,” he says. “Markets, consumers and technology are evolving and incumbents must be challenged. They will not innovate as long as the status quo favors them.

This led him to wonder whether Adidas and Nike were “doing a brilliant job for all sports teams outside of the world’s elite.” He said: “I didn’t think that was the case. I felt we could offer something different and superior, in terms of fabric quality and performance. The challenge was to turn this dream into reality. It was a no-equity company whose founders had no industry knowledge or experience.

Unlike some start-ups, the Beahons did not appear on BBC One’s Dragons’ Den. Tom says: “There is no single path to success. »

Instead, they turned to their parents, who remortgaged their home to provide the seed capital. Tom and Phil’s mother was a teacher, their father worked in construction.

“We were a perfectly normal working-class family,” Tom recalls. His parents were a huge influence, instilling in the brothers “a huge work ethic” of “rolling up your sleeves and getting on with it.”

Their parents initially hoped their boys would go to college. After their rejection on the sports field, the brothers wanted to be “masters of their destiny,” Tom remembers.

So they started knocking on the doors of countless clothing suppliers until one, a factory in Portugal, agreed to hire them.

But there was no big plan. Tom said: “It was just hustling – it’s a very un-British thing.

He adds: “You have to demonstrate deeper levels of perseverance than anyone who is not an entrepreneur will understand. »

Designers praise the quality of Castore kits while Beahons talk about “marginal gains” like slightly lighter fabrics.

1711243052 551 How two brothers with no knowledge and no capital built

1711243052 551 How two brothers with no knowledge and no capital built

But everything was not simple. The first major controversy came last year when Aston Villa’s ‘wet jerseys’ fiasco sparked complaints from both men’s and women’s players. They said sweat-soaked Castore jerseys affected their performance. It was a setback from which the Beahons learned hard lessons.

“We’re not perfect,” Tom admits. “You bump your head and you bump some more, but you slowly understand how things should evolve.” There were other growing pains. Perhaps most important is learning to let go and delegate as Castore’s meteoric expansion continues.

“In the beginning, you do everything yourself. It’s yours. You wake up at 5 a.m., you don’t go to bed until 1 a.m. You do whatever it takes to succeed,” Tom says.

But when a company grows to a certain size, say between 50 and 100 employees, “you need a different skill set” than the one that got you there in the first place.

“And it’s difficult,” he admits. “A lot of founders really struggle to achieve this. As a leader, your role shifts from that of a doer to that of the person who defines the vision.

He also believes that entrepreneurs are not born, stating: “Just because you didn’t go to Eton, don’t believe that someone is better than you or has the right to succeed.” You can learn the essential traits for business success. In this country, we’re doing a disservice to young people who want to start a business if they think they can’t do it because they’re not innovators. They just need encouragement.

Tom hopes he and his brother will become role models for budding entrepreneurs. He says: “It’s not an easy task, but being an entrepreneur is a viable career option. There is no superpower or secret sauce, just hard work.

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