Steven Gerrard wasn’t the only Liverpudlian celebrating when his Rangers team returned to the summit of Scottish football last weekend.
Watching at home on Merseyside were Tom Beahon, 31, and brother Phil, 28, the founders of British sportswear brand Castore.
Last year, Castore signed Rangers as their first football client. On Sunday, they toasted the perfect start to their five-season, £25m deal.
“This is Rangers back where they belong and for Castore to be a part of that is just special,” Tom Beahon tells City A.M.
The Beahon brothers launched Castore in 2016 after short stints in the Square Mile – Tom at Lloyds Bank, Phil at Deloitte – to raise startup capital.
Before that, both played professional sport – football for Tranmere Rovers and cricket at Lancashire, respectively – but grew disillusioned.
Their shareholders include Andy Murray and retail heavyweights Arnaud Massenet, who built Net-a-Porter, and Tom Singh, founder of New Look.
After five years of selling high-end training T-shirts, hoodies and shorts almost solely online, revenue is forecast to hit £100m in 2021.
“Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, Puma are very much mass market brands purely by virtue of their size and scale,” says Beahon.
“We want to be the No1 premium brand. That’s the opportunity that we see.”
Castore ‘will be in the Premier League’
Football, as the world’s most widely popular sport, was naturally always on the roadmap.
“We knew we needed to have world class athletes wearing Castore products on the global stage to get the brand visibility and authority.”
But they waited until 2020 to partner with Rangers in a deal that, unusually for the industry, involves not only making the club’s kit but also running retail operations.
Castore wanted a club with a fervent fanbase and worldwide visibility whose story also aligned with their “Better Never Stops” slogan.
Enter Rangers, who, under former Liverpool and England captain Gerrard have returned from rock bottom in both football and financial senses to finally unseat rivals Celtic again.
“We were waiting for the right opportunity,” says Beahon. “Rangers, given everything they’ve been through, is the perfect embodiment of that.”
Since then, Castore have been linked with kit deals for Newcastle United, Wolverhampton Wanderers, AS Roma and, in rugby union, Saracens.
Beahon won’t be drawn on specific teams but says: “We will be in the Premier League and we also will have a presence across all of the major European football leagues in the coming months and years.”
Castore also has contracts with the West Indies cricket team, the Lawn Tennis Association, McLaren Automotive and Australian rugby league sides Sydney Roosters and Melbourne Storm.
Beahon hopes to replicate the manufacturer-retailer model of their Rangers agreement with other teams.
“We want to partner with clubs that have a desire to digitise and premiumise, and are knocking on the door of success.”
Women’s range and footwear coming soon
As well as becoming a shareholder, Murray was also the first notable ambassador for Castore.
He is now one of a handful of big name British athletes aligned with the brand, including England rugby captain Owen Farrell and England cricketer Jos Buttler.
Former England and Manchester United footballer turned outspoken pundit Gary Neville is a more recent – and leftfield – client.
The Neville tie-up came about because he was already a fan of Castore’s range, Beahon says.
Choosing ambassadors is “not a science”, he adds, and social media following is not as important as alignment with the brand – the tireless Murray being a prime example.
For a company seeking to rival Nike and Adidas, there are two conspicuous elements absent from the Castore offering: footwear and a women’s range.
Both are in the pipeline, Beahon says, without committing to a timeline.
“Neither of those are anything that we can talk about at this moment in time unfortunately, but it is fair to say given the ambitions we have, both of those categories we would expect to be announcing something fairly soon.”
Castore expect £100m milestone in 2021
Castore has progressed quicker than expected on all fronts – from product development and signing up partner teams and ambassadors – as business has boomed in the last 12 months.
“The rule of thumb that we’re working to internally is that every month of lockdown will accelerate the digitisation of the retail sector by a year,” says Beahon.
“So, by the time we come out of this period, a decade if not longer of digitisation has happened. That has benefited a brand like Castore.”
As people have become more health conscious, demand for the company’s products – particularly running gear – has increased.
Castore has updated its sales forecasts to reflect this year’s boom, given an extra nudge by a spike in replica kit sales to mark Rangers’ triumph.
“Of course it’s been really challenging for so many people from a health perspective. From a commercial perspective, we’ve had a very good pandemic,” he says.
“We’ve doubled the size of the business every year since inception and this will be a milestone year. It’s a very exciting time for us, that’s for sure.”