As with most businesses, the underlying motivation at the very start was to be successful and make money but the real driving force was the founder’s unrelenting desire to control his own destiny. From a relatively early age it became apparently that learning by traditional methods – namely education – wasn’t for him. He began working as a “Saturday Lad” at a builder’s merchants, and was soon putting in 62 hour weeks to build up the savings needed to buy the first container of stock needed to launch his own venture.

Our main challenges when starting the business

The main challenge would be the fact the business received no external help – not a single penny in funding. All initial – and subsequent – successes were the result of Alex’s own hard work, determination, and courage to take risks. For example, the whole of his hard-earned £13,000 savings was spent on a container full of sports netting. To ensure the stock arrived in time for peak selling season, he did away with the traditional need for product samples to approve and just went for it, even though people told him “that’s not how business works”. It wasn’t all plain sailing though, as when the container docked he was hit with an unexpected VAT bill and after asking the bank for a two-week overdraft to tie him over, his request was refused point-blank. Thankfully Alex’s parents were deemed more credit-worthy and the money was eventually lent. The nets sold out in double-quick time as Alex and the business proved the naysayers wrong, something that became a recurring theme in the years to follow.

Success Factor

Over 95 per cent of the firm’s products are own-brand, giving it complete control of quality, supply, and profit margins. The remaining 5 per cent is chosen to attract brand-conscious customers who they might not otherwise reach. This control, coupled with the fact they are champions of sourcing, R&D based on customer feedback and manufacturing, means they can stock even more quality products at the best possible prices across all sporting ranges. Its FORZA football goal range makes up nearly 40 per cent of all sales. What started off as just a range of PVC garden goals has been recently bolstered by the addition of two premium aluminium goals, the Alu60 and Alu110, which are now on the approved supplier list of the English Football Association. In addition, products are sourced, designed, and manufactured in a way that ensures delivery times can be minimised and new products are immediately listed on its websites for customers to pre-order often before they’re even in the warehouse. Finally, the global reach of the business (more than half of sales are from outside of the UK) is maximised by ensuring each of its websites are tailored to the specific country which they are targeting

The Future

Essentially the plan for the next five years will be carrying on what it is doing but doing it better, refining and optimising all aspects of the business. Net World Sports continue to develop its own-brand range of niche, highly profitable products – they are close to completing the development of its own freestanding field hockey goals, full-size rugby posts, sports team shelters, and first aid kits, with tennis ball machines also in the pipeline. They will continue to strive to offer the best online customer experience, constantly working to improve its websites by embracing the latest technologies. As well as optimising the existing sites, they will be aiming to grow the brand awareness of each of their sports sub-brands, bringing them to life with their own dedicated websites.