Livingbridge sells stake in sportswear firm inov-8 after business size doubled

The fitness sector has grown considerably in Britain over the past few years, becoming increasingly fashionable.

Essex-based supplements provider Bulk Powders is one such company prospering from increased demand, having experienced a 104 per cent sales growth year-on-year.

“We have grown substantially since our launch, and we are confident that we have the building blocks in place to continue in this vein. Supported by a growing market, these are exciting times for us,” co-founder Adam Rossiter said.

Livingbridge is another firm to reap the rewards of said growing market, as the private equity company has sold its stake in fitness apparel business inov-8 after the business grew twofold following a £13.5m investment three years ago.

While inov-8 operates in the fitness and fashion markets, its former investor has a broad remit and funds projects spanning business and financial services, consumer markets, healthcare, education, technology and media, as well as energy and the environment.

However, 80-year-old Japanese sportswear firm Descente is the new buyer of the Livingbridge investment. It boasts a history of “craftsmanship and technological excellence”, which will likely be integrated into inov-8 as it plans to “accelerate the next phase of international growth plans”.

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Gordon Baird, CEO of inov-8, said: “This alliance signals an exciting new phase in inov-8’s development following a number of years of sustained growth.

“The investment by Livingbridge in 2012 was a real catalyst for the business strategically and operationally. Livingbridge’s track record and know-how in working with businesses at our stage of development have been invaluable.”

Livingbridge is stationed in London, Birmingham and Manchester, and generally makes investments of between £5m and £100m.

Further demonstrating the buoyant market in which Inov-8 sits, Sports Direct, which is a stockist of Inov-8 products, has started to look beyond bricks and mortar commerce. It has a plan to open 200 gyms, 40 of which are set to be in operation by 2016.

“Our gym memberships offer fantastic value for money in the same way that our customers have come to expect from our retail outlets and our website,” said a Sports Direct spokesman.

“This will be affordable fitness on an unprecedented scale. It will revolutionise the market by making private gym membership a realistic lifestyle choice for millions of people.”

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