Retail

Published: November 12, 2021 | Updated: November 12, 2021

Ian invests six figure sum to turn his passion for the action sports industry into a business

Ian Wagman, Owner, Guardhouse Sports in Christchurch. Picture: Dorset Biz News.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

Ian Wagman admits his new venture is something of a gamble albeit a calculated one.

The 47-year-old father of two has sunk a six-figure sum, including all his redundancy money, into a new action sports business, Guardhouse Sports, in Christchurch.

But, then again, if anyone can make a success of selling bikes, skateboards, paddleboards and various sports accessories, it’s Ian.

The former Portchester School pupil, who grew up in the Southbourne area, worked in his local skate and BMX shop Hot Wheels in Pokesdown when he was 21.

From there followed a 25-year career that spanned running a retail and mail order business and working in field sales and sales management.

It culminated in being the UK Head of Sales for what was to become the UK distribution division for several global bicycle brands.

Ian said: “When I started I was employee number two.

“When I left the UK business employed over 60 people with a £40m+ turnover.

“But in March this year changes were afoot.

“Changes in the management and reporting of the UK business, and amalgamation into the European division, meant it was time for something new and I was made redundant.

“I had always enjoyed my time in retail and always thought I would someday return.

“I believe retail is an art and that it’s increasingly challenging to offer something innovative and different to consumers.

“I was keen to look for something different to the normal high street shopping experience.

“I firmly believe life is about timing and, by chance, a friend had recently mentioned that the Guardhouse on Barrack Rd was up to let.

“It’s a very striking Grade 2 listed property that had been a hairdressers since being developed from the original army barracks 20 years ago.

“I had always admired the building from afar.

“In June we finalised the deal with the landlord and signed the lease.

“The property required some significant renovation following the departure of the last business and having been empty for nearly two years.

“I completed the work with help from some great, local professional businesses and significant help from a great group of friends.”

Guardhouse Sports officially opened its doors on August 19.

Ian, whose partner, Gemma, works for Slimming World and operates several groups in the area as well as working as an Area Manager, said: “The business is true to my experience and passion for the action sports industry but also to the amenities and activities I know people enjoy in this great part of the country.

“We are supporting the local area with a great range of bikes, skateboards, paddleboards and various sports accessories.

“We also offer bike repairs and servicing by our qualified mechanic from our fully equipped workshop space.

“We also have a coffee bar and refreshments if customers just want to drop in and talk bikes or boards in our unique building and environment.

“We’re looking to engage and promote our sports with the local community and will be doing shop rides in the local area (off road initially) as well as events in the spring where you will be able to see and demo the latest kit from the sports we cover.

“I do believe with the right experience and service customers want to – and will – shop locally.

“However, the internet can’t be ignored and we also have a great online presence and offer click and collect.”

Ian said that approaching three months after opening the business and he was pleased with the response to date.

He said: “We’re building a good customer base.

“Although it’s the end of the activity season we’re hoping for a good run-up to Christmas.

“We’re in a very prominent location and offering something a bit different.

“It’s early days but I’m pleased with the way things are going.”