Jonathan Neill

Managing Director, Sportsafe

"Colchester's location is very good for us with links to ports, airports and the East Anglia region"

How would you best describe Sportsafe UK Ltd and its values?

We aim to be the company of choice for the service, repair and provision of sports equipment to schools & colleges, sport & leisure services, uniformed services, gymnastic clubs, trampoline clubs, sports clubs and hotels. We provide a professional and highly competitive service to all of our clients, ensuring personnel have a clear understanding of their responsibilities and authorities. We encourage and train all employees to seek continuous improvement in their work and enhance customer satisfaction, thus ensuring our work is carried out to the highest possible standards.

We have 6 core values which employees ‘sign up’ to: Trust; Integrity; Pride; Passion; Enjoyment; Respect. Our values are extremely important to us and we will hire and fire by these values.

Who started Sportsafe UK Ltd and when, how has it evolved to date?

I started the business in January 1997, one man and one van initially, growing in its first year to one office in Colchester with three people, two vans, servicing 250 sites. By 2007, we had opened a second office in Scotland, with 25 people, 13 vans, a fitness department and servicing 5000 sites on 19 contracts. Today we have five offices across the UK, with 95 staff, 32 vans, servicing 16000 sites with 120 contracts.

How big is Sportsafe UK Ltd now?

We are now part of the Abeo Group, global leaders in gymnastics, climbing and locker rooms with a turnover of over 200 million Euros and employing over 1000 people

How do you see Sportsafe UK Ltd further evolve over the next 5 years?

To expand our clothing division ‘Branded’ and to promote our outdoor division ‘Outdoor Spaces’ based in York. To continue to invest in sport for children through our ‘Supporting the Next Generation’ programme. To open another 2 regional bases across the UK and look to open international offices. Plus to retain our headquarters in Colchester.

What are the advantages of being a Colchester-based business?

Its location is very good for us with links to ports, airports and East Anglia region. Employment is also good and the support of local organisations.

What are the biggest challenges for business in Colchester?

Roads needs to be improved as do telecommunication networks. Support from the council for growing business would be good especially around property.

As the town expands, what opportunities does this create for both Sportsafe UK Ltd and for the town generally?

For us it is access to more employable people, in the present climate employing the right people can be difficult. The younger generation are very important to us as they are the future of Sportsafe so we encourage apprentices, some of our best team members started as apprentices

Of the 4 key themes promoted by Colchester Ambassadors, which is the most important to you and why?

Creating Capital in Colchester. Although they are all very important, creating capital and entrepreneurial growth for me are the most exciting parts, having started the company from one man to its present form. It’s what drives me to continue and grow the company.