April 11 2016.

Hampshire-based Covec, the company behind the Bull-It range of clothing designed specifically for leisure and professional motorcyclists, is set for a period of growth after partnering with Clydesdale Bank.

The Bull-It range, which includes jeans and jackets, is made of a technical textile created by Covec using fibres also used in Nasa’s Mars Rover expeditions, and is designed to withstand the abrasion and heat created when motorcyclists fall from their bikes.

With annual sales of around £1.2m, the management team at Covec is anticipating sales to reach £3m by the end of year.

The deal for Covec is the first from Clydesdale Bank’s Emerging Technology Unit – a team created at the end of last year to support high growth technology businesses to access finance.

The new financial backing will allow the business to invest in increased stock levels to meet growing demand, and develop new high performance products in partnership with a number of leading brands. There are also plans to expand into the personal protective equipment (PPE) sector for workers in hazardous environments.

The clothing incorporates a thermotropic liquid crystal polymer and Covec is the only company in the world which applies the same technology to high performance clothing.

The company exports to more than 25 countries with particular demand in Australia, the United States, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.

Covec was established in 2011 by former Speedway racer Keith Bloxsome. As well as the racing background, Keith has also worked in apparel and clothing retail. So far Covec has raised £1m in external investment for research and development and to secure the intellectual property for the Bull-It range.

Keith says the new partnership with Clydesdale Bank will support a sustained period of sales growth over the next 12 months.

He said: “We have been self-funded until now, which has allowed us to invest in an extensive programme of R&D, bring the products to market, and enjoy strong sales to date.

“However, we believe the properties of this material far outstrip other products on the market, and we expect demand to keep growing. Competing materials, such as aramids, tend to have a limited shelf life and are affected by wearing. Covec is an evergreen product.

“We were looking for a banking partner which understood the challenges of a young, but growing and ambitious company with technical expertise. Clydesdale Bank took the time to understand those challenges and focused on our sales potential.”

Keith and his team have applied the material to clothing by developing a weave and production processes which allow it to be cut and dyed. He believes the properties of the material outstrip others on the market which are used for the same application, a belief which is justified by globally-recognised intellectual property and endorsement by the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM, Federation of International Motorcycling).

The new support was arranged by Tom Brock, head of the new Emerging Technology Unit.

Tom said: "It is widely recognised that science and innovation are crucial to the long-term economic growth of the UK economy. Covec is a great example of the type of company that the Emerging Technology Unit was set up to assist - innovative with a dynamic and experienced management team, a proposition underpinned by strong intellectual property which will drive future revenue growth and global ambitions to break into export markets.

“Keith and the team at Covec have developed a range of products which are truly market-leading and in demand across the world. They are on the cusp of some exciting and ambitious growth, working with globally-recognised brands.”

The creation of Clydesdale Bank’s Emerging Technology Unit is part of the bank’s partnership with the British Business Bank under its ENABLE Guarantee programme. This partnership will see up to £125m of lending by Clydesdale Bank help small businesses reach their growth ambitions.

Reinald de Monchy, British Business Bank Managing Director, Wholesale, said:
“We welcome this first transaction by Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks’ new Emerging Technology Unit, made possible with support from the British Business Bank’s ENABLE Guarantees programme.

“We are delighted to see early evidence that the programme is delivering the additional lending and choice of products that smaller UK businesses need to prosper and grow.”

Pictured: Keith Bloxsome