South Yorkshire fishing firm is casting net far and wide

Fishing Republics chief executive officer Steve Gross.
Fishing Republics chief executive officer Steve Gross.

Fishing Republic, one of the UK’s biggest fishing tackle retailers, is cashing in on the new craze for the sport following the popularity of programmes such as ITV’s The Big Fish Off.

The firm, which was formed in Mexborough and is now based in Rotherham, is expecting strong growth this year as it branches out of its northern heartlands and opens stores in the South.

Like-for-like sales shot up by 45 per cent in the second half of 2015 and sales are expected to carry on growing as it opens new stores and demand increases for its online products.

Chief executive Steve Gross said: “Fishermen are buying more tackle.

“Instead of going half-a-dozen times a year they’re going a dozen times.

“They’ve seen programmes like The Big Fish Off. Fishing is showing up on everyone’s radar.”

He added that the younger generation are particularly interested in carp fishing.

“You can catch a big fish, take a photograph, put it on Facebook and then put the fish back,” he said.

Finance director Russell Holmes added: “The big trend is carp fishing and you need a lot of equipment for it.

“Anglers in our stores are like kids in a sweetshop.”

They were speaking as the firm announced a 22 per cent increase in revenue to £4.1m in 2015 while underlying pre-tax profits rose by three per cent to £305,000.

The firm is in the early days of its expansion and sees bigger growth ahead.

It floated on the Stock Exchange last June and costs associated with this knocked pre-tax profits back to £6,000.

Late last year, Fishing Republic launched their expansion in the South with the purchase of Cotswold Angling.

The firm had raised £500,000 through a share placing to pay for the deal and to fund the opening of a new store in Crewe.

The deals follow the firm opening a store in South Birmingham, and its Hull outlet moving to larger premises.

Mr Gross said last year: “Our aim is to build a substantial presence in a market which is highly fragmented, and we will continue to look for opportunities to expand our footprint whilst building our online offering.”

He established the company in Mexborough when aged just 13 and specialised in the tying of flies and fly tying materials for fishing tackle wholesalers.

The firm opened its first retail outlet in 1999 and in 2005 launched its first Fishing Republic store in Barnsley.

Others were opened a year later in Manchester and Hull.

It now has ten stores across the UK, including five in Yorkshire.

Fishing is now the UK’s biggest participation sport and the sixth biggest overall.

Fishing industry experts say children are becoming increasingly interested in the sport and will often make a weekend of it and use set-ups of two or three rods.