When Samantha Hale, Managing Director of Advance Performance started her working career as a professional groom to a three-day Olympic event rider, her only thoughts of running were those of running around putting in long days supporting her rider and horses to the best of her ability.
In 1996 that changed when she moved into retail and then, from her back bedroom, formed her own sports related retail business along with her husband at that time. This grew and things started to get serious, so the business moved into its first premises in 1999, a shop in Fulbridge Road, Peterborough which was opened by Olympic hurdler, Sally Gunnell. Advance Performance was born!
Samantha takes up the story, “Having spotted a gap in the local market, the space we had in the store allowed us to offer gait analysis to athletes for the very first time.
“Getting the correct fitting running shoe is very important, so we equipped the store with treadmills and video gait analysis equipment which allowed us to find the ideal shoe for each and every customer.”
Advance Performance continued to provide a very unique service in the region as a specialist running store, its popularity meant more space was needed to accommodate additional clothing lines and shoe stocks so the company moved to Vitas Business Park in 2004.
The Peterborough store was attracting customers from all over the region, so an additional store was planned for Cambridge and began welcoming customers both old and new through its doors at Huntingdon Road in September 2007, opened by international athlete Sonia O’Sullivan.
“It was a real accolade to the quality of the service that we provide that someone of Sonia O’Sullivan’s ability agreed to open our new store for us,” continues Samantha.
In November 2010 Advance Performance doubled the size of its Peterborough store with a move just around the corner to Titan Drive, which was officially opened by Ron Hill, veteran athlete and founder of Ron Hill and Hilly Clothing Company.
Of that opening Samantha says, “Everyone put in so much time and effort to get the new store ready, it really was a very exciting time and I was thrilled that we had Ron here to officially open the new store for us. It’s was such an enjoyable day.” Fifteen+ years on, 18 staff members are employed across the stores in both Peterborough and Cambridge, many with specialist knowledge and skills.
Advance Performance continues to thrive and go from strength to strength.
Read more about how Sam got started in this article by The Moment Magazine – Running the Business