Julian’s Business Tips: a Business That Will Run and Run

Julian’s Business Tips: a Business That Will Run and Run

October is traditionally the start of the autumn marathon season – so here’s a running themed business story. Try and spot the places where opportunities were grasped!

Victorian running tracks were made of cinder, so runners generally wore their work boots.

In 1895, the son of a Bolton sweetshop owner, Joseph Foster, noticed that cricket shoes were made with spikes to help them grip on wet grass, so he made himself a spiked pair of running boots. And they worked rather well so he started to make and sell spiked shoes!

When Harold Abrahams won the Olympic 100m gold in 1924 (remember ‘Chariots of Fire’?) wearing Foster’s spikes, the world took notice!

But it didn’t stop there – this is a marathon business story, not a sprint!

In 1958, Joseph’s grandsons, Joe and Jeff decided to rename the company to help it grow overseas. Joe and Jeff found the name for the company while looking at a South African dictionary that Joe had won in a sprint race as a boy – and used the name of an African gazelle: Reebok!

They continued to develop their running pumps and tennis shoes in the UK, Europe and into the USA, and by 1981 the company was turning over £10 million! From Bolton sweetshop to £10 million global business! Awesome

Rather than stop there, they moved into clothing, accessories, and colourful shoes for the leisure market and the female market – usually overlooked by the brand leaders.

The eighties, as my more-mature readers will remember, heralded a new fitness phenomenon, called ‘aerobics’ – and they got in right at the beginning! Anyone remember the ‘Reebok Step’ for step-aerobics? By the mid-eighties, Reebok had sales of a £1 billion!

Now that is fast growth, £10m to £1000m in less than a decade!

Could your business match that pace?