Sports brand flexes muscles on international stage amid export boom

International trade is booming for Rotherham’s SBD Apparel, which now supplies product to 46 countries around the world.

The company, which specialises supports and performance clothing for strength sports and currently operates from five units, including four in Thurcroft, Rotherham, last year secured a £1.5m Business Investment Fund grant from South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority towards a new 100,000 sq ft premises on the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Catcliffe.

SBD Apparel, well known for its affiliation with the World Strongest Man competition, is investing more than £10m itself into the modern production facility.

The new facility, which will open in 2023, is expected to create 270 jobs within three years and will enable the company to bring its five existing buildings together to operate from one single site, whilst quadrupling its floor space and increasing current output capacity by up to eight times.

The company has experienced 44% sales growth in the last financial year and strong sales growth is expected to continue in 2023. In the last three years, the company has increased its number of international retailers by 33% and now sells in markets including Australia, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Germany, Spain, Italy, Norway and Iceland.  Each retailer is given exclusivity to sell SBD products in their territory, receiving support with branding, website, enquiries and customer services to ensure the retailer shares in the brand’s success.

William Islip, commercial director at SBD Apparel, explains: “We have experienced strong international demand for our products, 86% of our total sales are exported related and we currently have strong interest from additional retailers worldwide.”

He adds: “We are looking forward to moving into our brand new headquarters next year.  We want to attract the best talent so, as well as a modern factory environment, the building will have its own gym and leisure facilities and a creative centre for staff.  We will be recruiting heavily next year and are working closely with local colleges and universities as well as launching our learning and development programmes.”

SBD Apparel has grown its international markets through the brand’s reputation for quality, which has seen the products used by elite athletes globally, including ‘The Mountain’ from Games of Thrones, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, and reigning World’s Strongest Man, Scotland’s Tom Stoltman.

SBD Apparel currently sponsors the World’s Strongest Man competition, broadcasted on Channel Five each year, and has done for the past six years, raising the profile of its brand across the globe. The company also attends fitness and strength sport exhibitions across the world.  SBD Apparel has benefited from support through the South Yorkshire Growth Hub with identifying export opportunities and most suitable international markets.

Click here to sign up to receive our new South West business news...