Alpkit has built its reputation on quality and affordability

Alpkit has built its reputation on quality and affordability

An outdoor gear company founded 14 years ago in the East Midlands has been shortlisted in awards run by an international foundation.

Alpkit has increased its staff numbers from 12 to 63 and has expanded its online retail operation and opened two shops in English national parks.

The Nottinghamshire-based company was named as one of the four best performing small businesses by the Citi Foundation, part of the global banking Citi organisation.

The firm was founded in 2004 as an online-only retailer when four friends with a shared passion for exploring the Alps started making gear for themselves and for people they knew, before progressing to selling directly to outdoor enthusiasts online.

Recently Alpkit opened two stores at Hathersage in the Peak District and Ambleside in the Lake District.

Each week its employees make more than 1,500 products for climbers, walkers and bikers, and it has earned a reputation for quality and affordability. Alpkit plans further shop openings in 2018 alongside the creation of 15 more jobs.

The company has been named one of only four UK finalists for the ‘growth’ award in the Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards, funded by the Citi Foundation. The awards are the annual celebration of Britain’s microentrepreneurs that have accessed ‘responsible’ business finance, and the four finalists are in the running for a £7,500 cash prize and national and international recognition in this year’s awards.

Alpkit achieved its expansion with the help of Nottingham-based finance provider Enterprise Loans East Midlands (First Enterprise).

Alpkit’s David Hanney said: “It is wonderful to have been nominated for the Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards.

“It gave us a moment to stop and reflect on just how much we have grown since working with First Enterprise. The funding helped us at a time that High Street banks weren’t able to do so and I hope that our nomination helps raise the profile of First Enterprise as a valuable source of finance for ambitious companies.”

Bob Annibale, global director of Citi inclusive finance and community development, said: “The quality of applications was very high this year, and the finalists represent some of the best emerging microentrepreneurs in the UK who have enriched their local economies and communities.

“It is also important to recognise the integral work of responsible finance providers such as Enterprise Loans East Midlands.”

Judges praised the finalists’ impressive financial performance and sustainability.

Responsible Finance, an umbrella organisation for ethical lenders, said providers including Enterprise Loans East Midlands are a crucial part of the UK’s financial sector and the leading financial institutions offering affordable finance to many small and micro enterprises. The body’s chief executive Jennifer Tankard said: “The advice, mentoring, business support and skills development that responsible finance providers offer to their client businesses and social enterprises is just as important as the finance they provide.”

The overall award winner will be announced at a ceremony in Glasgow on 20 March.

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