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Other SportsManchester martial arts clothing brand Progress JJ double sales to £2.4 million

Manchester martial arts clothing brand Progress JJ double sales to £2.4 million

Manchester martial arts clothing brand Progress JJ has doubled sales in the last year to £2.4 million.

The Trafford Park firm, which specialises in stylish jiu jitsu sportswear kit, is a global hit – shipping to more than 75 countries.

Jiu jitsu is the world’s fastest growing martial art and celebrity fans include Tesla’s Elon Musk and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and movie stars Tom Hardy and Henry Cavill.

Progress JJ celebrates its Manchester roots with kimonos and gi fighting jackets and trousers named after local landmarks such as the M6.

The fast-growing firm secured six-figure funding from the Northern Powerhouse last year to fund export growth.

Progress JJ came second last year in Brightpearl’s Lightning 50 league table of the UK’s fastest growing ecommerce brands.

Founder and chief executive James Tighe, an intermediate purple belt fighter, talks about the success of Progress JJ on Brightpearl’s Lightning 50 E-Commerce Growth Hacking Podcast.

Tighe spotted a gap in the market for high quality jiu jitsu clothing and has worked with his father Denis and nephew Sam to grow the business.

He said: “This is very much a family business, created after we all fell in love with the Brazilian jiu jitsu sport.

 “Our dream was to one day quit our jobs and work on the brand full time, being involved with the jiu jitsu community, to help it grow as much as we could.

“Fast forward to January 2021, we finally achieved our goal and launched the brand full time from our distribution centre at Trafford Park.

“We have not looked back since and have our amazing customers to thank for giving us the best job in the world.

“We take great pride in being from Manchester and the city’s culture and history influences a lot of our designs such as M6 kimonos and gi wear.

“We add more value to the jiu jitsu community than we take out and our mission is to create the best products and projects that motivate and inspire all Jiu Jitsu athletes to Progress.

“We’re growing at a really good rate at the minute, which obviously comes with problems and challenges, but we are getting on top of things now.”

Sales have grown from £268,000 in the first full year to £1.2 million in the second year.

They doubled again to £2.4 million in the last financial year which ended in April, with profits of £144,000 – up from £47,000 the previous year.

Over the next year, sales are expected to almost double again to £4.5 million.

Progress JJ, which supports the RAF’s jiu jitsu team and recently teamed up with Gymshark for a collaboration, has seven staff and is based at the Westbrook Trading Estate at Trafford Park.

A key part of its  success has been introducing Inventory Planner stock planning software which has boosted profitability.

Tighe, 41, said: “Inventory planner has helped us get much more accurate purchase invoices, so much less stock is being under and over sold.

“It has really boosted our efficiency and profitability and ensured that we are not tying up cash. It has made sure that we always have available supplies of our best selling products.”

Tighe told the L50 podcast that Brexit had been a “nightmare” and the brand had been forced to open a warehouse in Spain to serve its customers in the European Union.

Next stop is America where the jiu jitsu market is 20 times the size of the UK.

Jiu jitsu’s huge popularity is due it being one of the main martial arts used by cage fighters in the UFC (Ultimate Fight Championship) bouts screened globally

The sport hit the headlines this month when Mark Zuckerberg challenged fellow billionaire Elon Musk to a jiu jitsu cage fight.  Both men regularly train in the sport.

Jiu jitsu is a self-defence martial art based on grappling, ground fighting and submission holds.

Tighe explained in the L50 podcast that lots of people are taking up jiu jitsu thanks to UFC.

He said: “People have started really getting involved in watching and training in mixed martial arts.

“A lot of people don’t like boxing or getting punched or kicked in the face, so people naturally sort of gravitate to the sport which is a little bit less intense, which is jiu jitsu, a more gentle martial art.

“It’s kind of like a combination of judo and wrestling, but you don’t really get hurt.

“I think that’s why people love training. People start training in their 40s, 50s or even into their 60s. It’s not like a lot of other sports where it requires a lot of physical attributes – anyone can do it.”

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