Gym equipment company powers ahead with Barclays loan

October 16, 2013

Manufacturing company Watson Gym Equipment is expanding into new premises after a securing a commercial mortgage with Barclays.

The £328,000 loan has helped the Frome-based firm, which specialises in handmade bespoke professional gym equipment, move into a 6,400 sq ft site on the town’s Commerce Park Industrial Estate to support its growth strategy.

Launched in 1998 by owner Simon Watson, the company supplies equipment such as dumbbell handles and squat bars to an extensive UK customer base including Bath University and Bath Rugby, and is a global supplier to the health and fitness industry in the US and across Europe. 

Professional endorsement from high-profile fitness celebrities, particularly in the US, has ensured fast growth and the firm now exports 60% of its products and is looking to expand further as demand continues to increase. Its annual turnover now stands at around £2m. 

Mr Watson said: “Purchasing the new premises is a major step forward in our growth strategy. We started out in premises the size of a double garage with two employees and the new space will allow us to meet an increasing demand for our products as well as create a showroom for potential customers to see first-hand the gym equipment and factory where it is manufactured from start to finish here in the UK.”

More than 20 tonnes of British steel are delivered at the factory each week and made into more than 200 pieces of gym equipment. Each piece bears the Watson logo and maker’s signature, ensuring the quality of the equipment is of the highest standard.

Educated at Beechen Cliff School in Bath, Mr Watson designed his first piece of gym equipment to satisfy his own health and fitness requirements. 

Having undertaken an apprenticeship with the MoD at Boscombe Down, and following some time travelling, Simon worked as a welder and fabricator which gave him the insight and know-how to start producing his own equipment. The business started with two employees. It now employs 22 staff, made up of welders and upholsters, packers and drivers.

Barclays Business manager in Frome, Brian O’Connor, added: “The investment in the new premises will now enable the company to build on their strengths and grow their market share both in the UK and overseas by implementing a long-term programme of strategic investment. Watson Gym Equipment is a British product through and through and its appeal for quality and service will ensure the firm has an extremely bright future.”

Frome Town Council economic development & regeneration manager Peter Wheelhouse said: “We are delighted that Simon Watson has chosen Frome as a location to establish and grow his company.  Watson Gym Equipment is a high performer in this sector and we are proud of what has been achieved. We wish Simon well for the future and naturally, Frome Town Council will do whatever it can to support the business as it develops.”

Pictured: Simon Watson and team outside Watson Gym Equipment’s new premises

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