Investors quick to back NW padel start-up as it secures six-figure funding

Mark Hewlett

A private investor has provided six-figure financial backing for a North West start-up padel operator to expand around the UK.

The anonymous high net worth individual is funding the Wigan-based entrepreneur behind Soul Padel, and will acquire suitable sites to open padel centres.

Founded by former retail and healthcare executive Mark Hewlett, Soul Padel will use the investment to push ahead with its plans to open a series of community-focused padel centres, initially across North West England.

The start-up had more than a dozen potential investors when it opened the first round of funding, with Hewlett revealing that the business opted to secure all the funding from one individual.

He said: “When we opened the first round of funding we had interest immediately and decided to secure funding from one individual, who was extremely keen to back our business and is very aligned to our vision and values.

“To secure funding this quickly is pretty humbling but also confirms we are bringing something special and unique to the UK padel sector.

“Our plans now are to look at a second funding round which will enable us to continue to deliver on our vision to welcome everyone to the court.”

Soul Padel, which officially launched in December last year, has catapulted itself into padel’s fast lane with a series of recent board appointments and business partnerships that will enable it to fulfil its aim of opening a number of venues, including a centre of excellence.

It currently has more than 20 sites under review and offers in on seven locations across the North West.

Hewlett added: “Now is the right time for investors to be putting money into padel. The sport is at a nascent stage in its growth in the UK and is recognised as the fastest growing sport in the world.

“Padel offers a diversified investment opportunity into the rapidly expanding ‘competitive socialising’ sector.

“Securing funding in just a few weeks, signals to the market that we are serious about the growth of the business and savvy investors see the potential returns.”

Padel has significant investment appeal as a 2023 Global Padel Report, produced by Deloitte and Playtomic, noted the padel ecosystem is expected to be worth €2bn by 2026. It also expects the worldwide number of courts to double from 40,000 to 85,000 in the same period.

The UK is part of the global expansion and is an early-stage market for padel, which is seeing exponential growth.

In 2023 the sport saw a doubling of courts to around 400 across the country in the space of 12 months. In the UK, padel has in excess of 90,000 players and is also backed and regulated by the Lawn Tennis Association.