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Evolving fast.

Byline: Ian Mcneal

A Teesside-based sports coaching company has been bought out in a cash and equity deal which could eventually rise to pounds 375,000.

Sports marketing firm Navigator has acquired award-winning Evolve Sport, of Stockton, only one year after the company was formed.

Evolve Sport delivers junior sports coaching programmes for schools, clubs, charities and UK education authorities.

The buy-out comprised pounds 22,500 cash and pounds 22,500 shares in Navigator's parent Bradford-based advertising and marketing services company Real Affinity. Further share payments worth a maximum of pounds 330,000 may be payable depending on profit performance.

Jon Bell, 33, a sports development specialist and former PE teacher from Skelton Green, set up the company with business partner John Bishop in February 2003.

He said: "The business grew so quickly that we needed to link up with a firm which could provide media and marketing support and a sponsor which would back the projects we were doing.

"Navigator is a specialist in sports marketing and the deal will help us deliver our programmes on a bigger scale."

Jon was a director of a similar company Challenger Sports in the US.

He said: "I wanted to come back to the UK to set up my own business."

"Primary schools don't have anyone with specialist knowledge of sports coaching and we can provide that.

"We are not looking at training elite players. The idea is to get everyone involved in sport whatever their skill level.

"There are often children who won't have a go but we work with every individual and set them their own goals, which has been part of our success."

A Navigator spokesman said the buyout would provide the company with additional infrastructure and experience and lead to the delivery of a wider range of sports events and marketing activities.

In the year ending March 2004, Evolve Sport posted pre-tax profits of pounds 10,000 on a turnover of pounds 220,000 and in February, the business won the Community Award in the Tees Valley Best New Business Awards 2004.

It employs six full-time staff with about 75 coaches on its books and worked with 25,000 youngsters last year.

Jon said the short-term aim of the business was to deliver programmes to 60,000 young people this year and increase the number of coaches to 100.
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Title Annotation:Business Weekly
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Nov 16, 2004
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