13/09/2016

Port Talbot’s Tatami is fighting fit after £220,000 investment from Finance Wales

Tatami Fightwear, which already sponsors a number of fighters and teams worldwide, is punching above its weight and now plans to expand thanks to a £220,000 loan from Finance Wales for additional stock and a new embroidery machine. The company are looking to hire an additional member of staff to help with increased production thanks to the new equipment.

The sportswear business was founded in 2009 by Lee Jones and Gareth Dummer. The pair met when Lee took his children to train at a local Brazilian Jiu Jitsu club where Gareth was a coach. Frustrated by a lack of stylish and comfortable clothing available for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighters Gareth and Lee decided to start their own company producing suitable fight wear for the UK market.

A former steelworker, Lee was injured in an explosion at the Port Talbot works in 2001 (then owned and managed by Corus). He had received compensation money following the accident and decided to invest his money in the new company.

“Deciding to run my own business and invest in Port Talbot was really important to me after the explosion at the steelworks in 2001. It gave me a new focus in life and it’s great that we’re now able to offer our internationally recognised product to a larger customer base thanks to this investment from Finance Wales,” explained Lee. 

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu uses a number of techniques from other martial arts like Judo. It involves a lot of grappling and ground work and uses different techniques to enable opponents to defend themselves from attacks. The sport promotes the idea that a smaller opponent can overcome a larger fighter by using correct technique and leveraging another combatant’s weight against them.

Gareth, an active Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitor and black belt instructor was able to quality test and perfect Tatami’s product range.

The company are also keen to work with the local community, sponsoring a nearby Brazilian Jiu Jitsu club and hosting training sessions at a dojo owned by the business.

“We’re passionate about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and we’re passionate about Port Talbot and our local area,” added Gareth.  “Our local group train a couple of times a week. We’ve also been to a number of international competitions which allows us to showcase our company to a wider market and really spread the word about our products and about Welsh goods in general.”

Deputy Fund Manager Bethan Cousins who structured the deal for Finance Wales said: “Gareth and Lee are a great team; they’re hardworking and believe in not only their business – which is rapidly expanding – but Port Talbot.

“We proactively approached the company to see if we could assist them with any expansion plans after they were featured in the 2015’s Fastgrowth 50, a year after taking home the winner’s trophy in 2014 for the fastest growing retail business in Wales.”

“Thanks to Bethan and the team at Finance Wales we’re in a great position to take our company to the next level,” added Gareth.