World-renowned paddle brand sold as water sports market hits crest of wave

Joseph Bulmer

The corporate finance team from business experts Grant Thornton has advised on the sale of leading paddleboard brand which has annual sales of more than £20 million.

The sale of Vian Marketing, the holding company of Red Paddle Co, sees Gresham House Ventures fully realise its investment in the Totnes-based business.

Red Paddle Co’s entrepreneurial management team will continue to lead the business post transaction.

The business sells its products across the world through the following brands, Red Paddle Co stand up paddle boards, Red Original outdoor apparel and Tushingham Sails, a water sports equipment manufacturer and distributor.

Prior to becoming part of Gresham House Ventures, Mobeus VCT held the investment in Vian Marketing. The completion of the sale to the Myers Family Office, has generated a money multiple of almost 5x.

The Mobeus VCTs invested £4 million in 2015 to fund an equity release for the founders and later supported the management buy-out of the business by the current CEO and founder of the Red Paddle Co brand John Hibbard, as well as finance director Helen Shears.

The business has delivered strong growth, driven by the globally-renowned Red Paddle Co brand and has almost doubled its revenue. Its premium quality products are now sold in over 60 countries via its website, retailers and distributors.

The stand-up paddleboard market has taken off in recent years, becoming even more popular throughout the pandemic with the increased focus on outdoor activities. Red Paddle Co’s equipment is now carried by a number of mainstream retailers, including John Lewis & Partners.

The South West-based Grant Thornton team advising the shareholders on the transaction included Nick Jones, Anna Davies and the firm’s Head of Consumer Brands M&A, Nicola Sartori. The Vian Marketing team were also able to draw on the technical expertise of Grant Thornton’s SPA advisory team, led by Patrick O’Brien.

Grant Thornton’s Nick Jones says: “Red Paddle Co is widely recognised as the leading premium paddleboard brand and it’s been hugely impressive to see the continued international expansion as well as the successful development of the outdoor apparel and accessories offering. It is fantastic therefore to complete this transaction whereby John, Helen and the rest of the team remain fully involved going forward and we’re really excited to see them continue to grow this market-leading business.”

The other advisors to the shareholders were Henry Taylor and Francesca Hubbard at Michelmores as well as Clarke Willmott and Bishop Fleming.