Derby-based wetsuit firm Huub signs up Brownlee brothers
OLYMPIC triathlon heroes the Brownlee brothers have sealed a sponsorship deal with a Derby sports equipment firm.
Mickleover-based Huub is supplying Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee with the wet suits they will wear in training and elite competitions including this year's World Triathlon Championships, in London, and the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Reigning world triathlon champion Alistair will wear a Huub kit at the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon a week tomorrow.
It will be his first event since swimming, cycling and running his way to Olympic gold last year, when brother Jonathan took the bronze medal.
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Getting the Yorkshire-based brothers on board is a massive coup for the Derby company, the idea for which was dreamt up in the Crewe & Harpur Arms, in Swarkestone, just a couple of years ago.
With the global exposure the Brownlees bring to the brand, Huub managing director Dean Jackson expects sales to double next year.
He also believes that the innovative design and materials used to make the wet suits will help the Brownlee brothers power their way to more medals.
Mr Jackson said: "Ultimately, however much money is involved, elite athletes will not use a product in competition if it is no good so it's fantastic for Huub that they will be using our wet suits. I've known the boys for about five years, they are incredibly nice, are brilliant to work with and I'm confident that they will come up to visit us in Derby at some point."
The Huub wet suits have been designed to improve performance in the water by allowing biceps and calf muscles to move more freely while providing core support to keep swimmers straighter in the water.
The business has only been operating since late 2011 and has had its products on the market for the last 10 months through retailers in 11 different countries.
Mr Jackson said: "Triathlon is a growing sport around the world. Between May and September last year, we had £500,000 of sales and our equipment has been flying out of the warehouse.
"When we started, investors Turning Point gave us £25,000 to design the suit, get it made, prove that it was the fastest, secure £200,000 of sales and get an Olympian to wear it.
"Next year, we expect to double sales and the year after that we're hoping to grow by another 80%."
Alistair Brownlee said: "I am looking forward to working with Huub over the next four years.
"Since I started triathlon, I have always known that you have to have a top wetsuit. I choose Huub because they spend a lot of time researching how to help make me faster in the water.
"The new suit feels great and I'm looking forward to racing in it this year. It's just a shame they've given Jonny one as well."
The Brownlees have a big following around the world and their endorsement of the Huub brand is likely to help drive overseas sales.
With an eye on the export market, the Derby business has also signed up double European triathlon champion Rasmus Henning.
The Dane, recently retired from elite competition, will market Huub's wares in Scandinavia.
Prior to setting up the business, Mr Jackson was a co-founder of Spondon running store The Derby Runner and went on to become UK marketing director for global sports brand Asics.
Latterly, he was UK sales and marketing manager for wet suit firm Blueseventy, the firm that previously supplied the Brownlees with their wet suits.