Gloves are off for keeper turned trader

A budding entrepreneur is swapping his football kit for a suit, shirt, and tie — as he attempts to make the switch from sport to the world of business.

Goalkeeper Richard Ladd, 20, from Cleethorpes, had been tipped as one of the county’s next big sporting stars, but his dreams of playing in the Football League were shattered after he failed to win a contract at a number of Lincolnshire clubs.


Ex-Football League hopeful Ladd wants to to be the next success story in the sportswear world. Photo: Bradley King

However he has now decided to take matters into his own hands, switching his attention to the highly crowded industry of sportswear by creating his own range of goalkeeper gloves based on his own experiences between the sticks.

Ladd, who set up “Performance Goalkeeping” earlier this year, said: “I had trials at Scunthorpe, Hull City and Grimsby Town as well as playing for other teams since I was young, so I have plenty of experience with different types of goalkeeper glove. I wanted to use that knowledge and use only the best materials to create my own styles.”

He set about creating twelve different designs of glove made out of unique “supersoft” latex and added roll straps which give extra support to the wearer. Within weeks a company in Pakistan had manufactured the products and sent him samples.

After posting images of the gloves online and contacting dozens of British-based players, Ladd found that the eye-catching samples had made quite an impact.

Blackburn Rovers’ Mark Bunn and Newcastle United’s Ole Soderberg expressed their interest in wearing the gloves for their clubs. England under-19 international and Middlesbrough goalkeeper Jason Steele soon followed. Ladd was even happier when two leading sportswear websites revealed that they wanted to stock the increasingly popular gloves.

But forcing his way into a crowded industry worth an estimated £180 billion was never going to be straightforward, and Ladd is the first to admit he has encountered difficulties.

“There have been so many problems. I’ve come to realise that nothing goes to plan when you want it to. Fortunately most issues can be fixed without too much hassle, though.”

There has been one problem that has not been so easy to solve for the six foot five inches tall Sunderland fan — the lack of funding. However he revealed that he was trying to win the support of the five famous BBC “Dragons” in an ambitious attempt to win investment.

“I have applied to go on Dragons’ Den and am waiting to hear back about that but, it is very difficult to find the capital to move forward. Money has been the main problem throughout the whole process and it still is. If we had the financial backing then the gloves would be selling online as we speak. I’m eagerly searching for investment and grants to help me kick on, but there is not a lot available.”

Despite his gloomy outlook, Ladd maintains that the current economic climate makes it an excellent time for young entrepreneurs to set up a business, providing they have done their homework.

“Costs are low and recent trends show people are starting to buy again. Market research is the most important thing. You need to evaluate who your competitors are and how you can become bigger and better.”

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