• Tue. May 21st, 2024

North East Connected

Hopping Across The North East From Hub To Hub

(from left) Jane Siddle of NEL Fund Managers, Steven Foley of CCBS Group and Nigel Morris of Nirvana Europe (from left) Jane Siddle of NEL Fund Managers, Steven Foley of CCBS Group and Nigel Morris of Nirvana Europe

A specialist North East sports travel and events firm is taking a run at growing its presence in North America with the help of a £500,000 investment from the North East Fund.

Nirvana Europe organises travel and accommodation for a range of major global sporting organisations and events, including the European and Global Ironman series, British, USA and World Triathlon and the Great Run event series.

The North Tyneside-headquartered firm, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, already has a growing event management presence in North America.

But after working with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers to bring in the investment from the North East Growth Capital Fund Supported by the European Regional Development Fund, Nirvana is now looking to greatly increase its activity across the continent, with a view to up to half of its future growth coming from the US and Canada.

Up to six new North East jobs are expected to be created as the business grows this year, with plans for establishing a permanent North American office currently under consideration.

Steven Foley, relationship development director at CCBS Group in Newcastle, and Barry Gill, director at TIG Group, advised the Nirvana Europe management team through the investment process.

Nirvana Europe was set up in 1999 on the back of its relationship with the Great North Run, a relationship which continues right through to today, and it has a 24-strong team at its Silverlink Business Park offices that is responsible for delivering its global events calendar.

Alongside its overseas growth, Nirvana Europe is also continuing to build its portfolio of events in the UK and is looking at opportunities for breaking into new sports, with swimming and athletics high on its list of priorities.

Other sporting events and activities with which Nirvana Europe is currently involved include parafencing, wheelchair rugby, the Spartan Race series and the Hyrox indoor fitness championships.

Nigel Morris, managing director at Nirvana Europe, says: “The opportunities keep coming for us, both at home and overseas, and it’s essential that we manage them carefully to ensure we’re growing the business in a sustainable way.

“We’re already active in North America, where we’ve found that there aren’t many competitors that can provide the comprehensive services that we deliver at around 150 events every year, and we’re confident that we can make big strides there in the medium term.

“We have people on the ground there already, but by setting up a permanent North American office, we’ll have the facilities in place to build the business and to train our workforce to deliver events to the high standards that we set.

“There’s also plenty of potential for the range of sports with which we’re involved to grow, with our long-term presence in the triathlon giving us all the experience we need to deliver swimming and athletics events.

“We’d heard very positive things about NEL, with the hands-on approach that the team took from the off showing how keen they were to make this investment happen.”

Jane Siddle, senior investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “Nirvana Europe has an enviable track record of successfully delivering major sporting events and has a clear plan for using this experience to build the business in different markets around the world.”

Steven Foley, relationship development director at CCBS Group, says: “We were delighted to work with Nigel and the team at Nirvana on the funding of their expansion plans.

“When we understood what they were looking to do and what level of funding was required, we quickly identified NEL as the ‘go to’ funding partner to help and support them.   It was an excellent team effort to reach a great conclusion that places the business on a sound footing for taking advantage of the opportunities in front of them”

The North East Growth Capital Fund has been designed to create around 790 jobs in more than 70 regional firms over the life of the programme and offers unsecured investments of up to £500,000 to established businesses looking to realise their growth potential.

The overarching £153m North East Fund will provide financial support for more than 600 businesses, creating around 2,500 jobs and delivering a legacy of up to £80m for further investment into the region.

For more information about NEL’s investment criteria, visit www.nel.co.uk or contact the investment team on 0345 369 7007.