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Bold Moves: Castore’s Tom Beahon on competing with global giants

Lauretta Roberts
25 April 2022

Starting up a brand takes bravery, vision, hard work and determination. Starting up a brand and taking on some of the world’s biggest names takes all that and something extra. It’s fair to say that Tom Beahon and his brother Phil, who set up their sports brand, Castore, in 2015 and now find themselves landing partnership deals that in the past only two or three global brands could have hoped to secure, have indeed got that that elusive something extra and it stems from their backgrounds in professional sports.

Before Castore, Tom was a footballer, playing for Tranmere Rovers, and Phil was a cricketer. But when the pair were just 22 and 19, they came to the painful decision that they weren’t going to make it to the top flight of their chosen sports and, not wishing to slog out careers on the sports B list, gave it all up to realise their dream of setting up an A list sports brand.

They moved back home to their parents’ house in Liverpool, secured jobs in finance to give them some financial security, and, spent all their spare time making Castore a reality. It turns out that the something extra that drove them to success wasn’t just the resilience and focus that comes from pursuing a career in professional sports (though that undoubtedly helps), it was, as Tom puts it, “pain”.

“When we were playing sports, we had the ambition to compete at the very highest level of our respective sports and and ultimately, to not sugar coat it, we both failed with those ambitions. I was 22 and Phil was 19 when we stopped playing our sports. That's a really really difficult pill to swallow. We’d dedicated ourselves completely to trying to achieve the ambitions we'd set for ourselves and when you do fail, and you realize that ‘Oh wow that that dream, that ambition that I had, is not going to happen’, it's a real wake-up call and I guess you've got two choices.

“At that juncture in your life either you become that that guy or girl that is always forever telling the story of how I could have done this or I would have done that if it wasn't for that bit of bit of bad luck – and I think we've probably all met people like that along the journey – or you can do the opposite and use that pain, I think pain is the right word, and you can try and turn it into something positive,” he tells The Bold Moves Academy podcast, produced in partnership with and Klarna for Business.

"At that juncture in your life either you become that that guy or girl that is always forever telling the story of how I could have done this or I would have done that if it wasn't for that bit of bit of bad luck, or you can do the opposite and you can try and use that pain and turn it into something positive."

In the early days of the business, Tom and Phil, would travel down from Liverpool pounding the streets of London and persuading gym and fitness instructors to wear their product and help spread the word. It worked and eventually the business racked up its first few hundred thousand pounds worth of sales. Not wanting to bring investors on too early, until they had proven their concept, the pair bootstrapped the business through its sales and their earnings from their jobs in finance.

Eventually, they took the plunge and got investors on board. Two young, working class boys with a vision of mixing it with the likes of Adidas and Nike, might have been a hard sell to investors, but in the early days they brought on investors such as Arnaud Massenet (whose ex-wife Dame Natalie Massenet established and former Saatchi & Saatchi worldwide CEO Robert Senior, who invested via the then newly formed Redrice Ventures, as well as New Look founder Tom Singh. They later went on to secure further funding from Asda owners, the Issa Brothers, but their most famous backer is, of course, British tennis legend Sir Andy Murray.


Tom Beahon, Sir Andy Murray, Phil Beahon

Essentially you're telling someone ‘we think we can go in exist in a market where some of the most iconic brands on the planet exist’. So that's a tough thing for anyone to buy into,” explains Tom of the early fundraising exercise.

“We did have a clear narrative about saying we want to be: a British sportswear brand that competes on a global stage and we want to be a premium brand that completes with the the mass market competitors. So there was ah there was a clear story there but it was only after we'd kind of proved ourselves capable of getting the business off the ground and generating that first couple hundred grand revenue ourselves that I think people started to say ‘Wow, OK I think it's a bit of a long shot but jeez these guys have got something about them if they've if they've managed to get it this far with with no support so far’.”

Part of the strategy to be able to mix it with the global giants was to persuade major sporting names to wear their kit. Realising that to outfit a sports team (plus all the backroom staff, coaches and other wider team members) was out of their reach in the early days, they started out with the ambition to attract individual sports people to wear their kit. But with agents and multi-million pound deals in the way, they had to take a back-door route and decided to gift their product to physios, physical trainers and masseurs to the big names. It was this that led them to Sir Andy Murray.

“A guy called Matt Little, who was Andy’s physical trainer, was wearing the product and by all counts Andy said: ‘That’s interesting that looks quite nice. Can you get some for me to try in training?’ He was coming to the end of his previous contract with Under Armour and he wore our kit because he liked our kit.

“I met Andy, I told him about the story as two young brothers, two British guys from working class Merseyside: ‘We've got this big ambition to set up a sports where brand and someone like you, Andy, would would really help us achieve that ambition’. I don't want to speak for Andy but I guess there's there's a number of parallels with Andy's own story coming from where he comes from with his brother Jamie, and becoming the world number one and the most successful British tennis player of all time. I think he if nothing else he kind of respected our ambition and our passion. It was a big risk on his behalf and something that that I massively respect him for and massively appreciate,” he says.


Castore's signature hoody

With Murray on board, it then became easier to go and pitch for the deal to outfit top-flight Scottish football team Glasgow Rangers. It was a huge contract and has been pivotal in the success of the brand.

“We needed to partner with elite teams as well and so we’d been on the lookout for a couple of opportunities. Glasgow Rangers who are one of the most famous, best-known, most successful football teams on the planet were available. Similar to with Andy, we were pretty aggressive in in identifying that this is a once in a generation opportunity and we need to go and make it happen and and we did. It was very similar to the Andy took the business to the next level in a pretty transformational way,” he says.

Today, numerous top-flight cricket teams wear Castore, along with Premier League football teams such as Wolverhampton Wanderers and Newcastle United, along with German team Bayer Leverkesen and the Maclaren Formula 1 team. It’s sold around the world via its own website and dedicated stores in the UK, along with fan stores that it operates on behalf of Glasgow Rangers and Newcastle United. Wholesale partners include high-end menswear site, Mr Porter.

A look from its womenswear line

It seems almost unbelievable that it might be possible in just seven short years but Tom is very clear to point out that in the early days, setting up a business, didn’t have a lot to recommend it. None of this came easy.

“There isn't a lot of nice things to shout about [in the early days], it’s early starts, it's late finishes, it’s setbacks, it’s challenges, it’s hardships. But if you can remain resilient and come through those then then hopefully you can be successful. But of course. It never stops. There's always the next challenge. There's always the next opportunity and that's why we love it,” he explains.

Besides, even Nike and Adidas had to start somewhere. While he believes in having no ego and demonstrating humility when it comes to personal relationships in business (particularly with staff), when it comes to pushing your business forward, you have to be prepared to go for it, he says.

"Why can't two young guys from working class Merseyside set up a business and partner with Andy Murray and partner with Glasgow Rangers? If not us, then then who else? Should we just leave that to the big guys to do? I don't want to go into my grave wondering about these things."

“You have to be incredibly ambitious from a professional perspective and and almost have that mindset of ‘well, why can't two young guys from working class Merseyside set up a business and partner with Andy Murray and partner with Glasgow Rangers? If not us, then then who else? Should we just leave that to the big guys to do?’ I don't want to go into my grave wondering about these things,” he says.

“What's the worst that can happen? All we can do is fail. Well, that’s happened to me before, so I have no fear of that. What I do have a fear of is mediocrity and not pushing myself for my business to be the best it can be. When you have that mindset, you're not going to be successful all of the time of course, but you'd be amazed at how often people will engage with and respect that passion and that ambition.”

To hear more from Tom Beahon on how he and his brother achieved the extraordinary, listen to his full interview on The Bold Moves Academy Podcast produced in partnership with and Klarna for Business. Listen here.

Also you can download a founder profile of Tom in The Bold Moves Academy section of our website, in which he provides his quickfire answers to our Bold Moves Q&A. Download here.

More Bold Moves stories are coming your way over the coming months, including from the founders of Nudea, Jakke and Hirestreet, with the series culimating in a live event and video interview with the founder of ASOS, Nick Robertson.

Produced in proud partnership with Klarna for Business.

Klarna for Business

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