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BHP a great fit for leading online running retailer

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Case study: BHP and

For three years, BHP has been providing accounting and advisory services to B-Sporting Limited (trading as, the UK’s leading online running retailer.


Originally set up as a sports shop in Bradford in 1982 by the father of current Managing Director Brett Bannister, was the biggest outlet of its kind in the world at that time and served all sports – from football and running to tennis and bobsleigh.

Brett Bannister explained: “My dad, who was a professional footballer back in the 70s and 80s, took up squash to keep fit when he retired, and decided to set up the store after struggling to find decent squash shoes.

“The shop itself was well established for 20 years when I joined the business back in 2004. We had moved into cataloguing and had quite a good mail order business set up across different sports. I had a background in digital and advertising, with some experience in internet marketing and retailing so, after I joined, I gave the business more of a digital focus and shifted the emphasis online.”

The Sports Shoes store closed in 2013 and the business now has a 100% digital focus. For the last 20 years, the retailer has specialised in the sale of running and outdoor footwear, doing business in the UK, Spain, Italy, France and Germany. Its distribution centre is in Shipley, Yorkshire, and the company employs 220 people. Their aim is to now be the number one running retailer in Europe.

Why BHP? had dealt with the same family accountant since 2006, who knew the business inside out. When he retired, it gave Brett Bannister the opportunity to start afresh and look elsewhere. The company had grown significantly from sales of £4million to upwards of £80million.

Brett said: “We were loyal to our previous accountant but, once he sold his business, I was able to look at it with a fresh pair of eyes. I wanted to work with a bigger firm to reflect the growth of our business, but I didn’t want the level of corporate relationship that comes with working with one of the Big 4.

“We chose BHP after hearing positive things from friends and other businesses. Our bank recommended three or four firms to talk to and we felt that BHP was the best fit for us.

“I wanted to work with the Partner – with bigger organisations, you might only sit down with the Partner once a year and, for the remainder of the year, you’d be dealing with different people at different levels. When I first started working with BHP, I wanted one point of contact, one person who knew it all – and that’s what I got with Jamie Williams.”

Painless onboarding process

Having worked with one accountant for many years, Brett was apprehensive about moving to a different provider.

He said: “It can be a bit awkward moving from one provider to another, but the process itself was pretty painless. Thankfully we had the goodwill from our previous firm, which I really appreciate. I’d built it up in my head to be a massive issue, but the biggest compliment I could pay to BHP and our previous accountants was that they made it work.”

Asking the right questions were looking for day-to-day financial support as well as strategic advice.

Brett said: “The business has changed a lot and BHP has facilitated everything that we’ve wanted to do. I’ve had some great advice from a business, audit and tax perspective, but BHP has also pushed me to ask long-ranging questions about the future of the company, which is what we need as a family-owned business.

“I want people to care about the detail, but it’s equally good to be challenged about the long-term and asked where you want to get to in the future.”

Small firm mentality on a bigger scale

Brett says that BHP offers his company a balance of scale and detail.

He said: “With BHP, we’ve got the expertise and scale of a big firm, but they still retain that family feel despite their size. If you choose to work with a much bigger, corporate firm, you can just be a number, whereas the team I’m working with at BHP have a small firm mentality but on a bigger scale.

“As a proud Yorkshireman, I like the fact that BHP is based in Yorkshire. They know us and they know our business. And I have all the expertise that I need in one place! I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend BHP to other companies, and I have done so.”

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