UK brand Sweaty Betty is bought by US firm for £300million

Sweaty Betty is bought by US firm for £300million more than two decades after it was founded in Notting Hill by husband and wife team who built it into international success with stores across UK and Asia

  • Sweaty Betty snapped up by footwear and lifestyle group Wolverine Worldwide
  • The company was first founded in 1998 in Notting Hill by Tamara Hill-Norton
  • She was supported by husband and co-founder of business Simon Hill-Norton
  • Couple live in Acton and also have a weekend home in West Wittering, Sussex 

Upmarket British sportswear brand Sweaty Betty has been snapped up by a US firm in a £300 million deal.

The brand, which is known for its figure-hugging leggings, confirmed on Tuesday that it has struck a deal to be acquired by footwear and lifestyle group Wolverine Worldwide.

The firm was founded in Notting Hill in 1998 by Tamara Hill-Norton and husband Simon Hill-Norton.

It has rapidly expanded to operate its own chain of stores across the UK and Asia – with 60 stores worldwide.

The firm also operates concessions in the likes of Selfridges and 99 Nordstrom stores in the US.

‘We founded Sweaty Betty in 1998 with the purpose to empower women through fitness, and today we are delighted to have found the right partner in Wolverine Worldwide, a company that is perfectly positioned to support the acceleration of our mission,’ said Tamara and Simon Hill-Norton in a joint statement.

The firm was founded in Notting Hill in 1998 by Tamara Hill-Norton and husband Simon Hill-Norton (pictured)

‘We’re so proud to have built an incredible community of active women who inspire us daily and are excited to see this powerful and supportive community grow worldwide.’

Blake Krueger, Wolverine’s chairman and chief executive officer, said: ‘The acquisition of Sweaty Betty complements our strategic shift over the last several years from a traditional footwear wholesaler into a consumer-obsessed, digital-focused growth company.

Blake Krueger (pictured), Wolverine’s chairman and chief executive officer

‘It also gives us a leadership position in the growing women’s activewear category.’

Sweaty Betty’s chief executive officer, Julia Straus, will continue to lead the brand and will report to Wolverine president Hoffman.

Ms Strauss said: ‘From the moment I met the team at Wolverine Worldwide, I knew they were the right partner to support us in the next chapter of Sweaty Betty.

‘Their portfolio of purpose-driven heritage brands, knowledge and expertise in building performance brands, robust international distribution and supply chain expertise provides a strong platform to expand Sweaty Betty and further our mission to empower more women through fitness all over the world.’

After launching the first Sweaty Betty store in Notting Hill in 1998, the business quickly grew and in 2001 it was named the Sports Industries Federation ‘sports retailer of the year’

By 2003 the brand had expanded to five boutiques. And three years later the company was opening a concession in upmarket Selfridges and later in Harrods.  

The firm continued to boom, despite the arrival of big-name rivals, and by 2016 the company had more than 40 boutiques around the UK, six in the US.

After launching the first Sweaty Betty store in Notting Hill in 1998 (pictured: The current shop in Notting Hill), the business quickly grew and in 2001 it was named the Sports Industries Federation ‘sports retailer of the year 

Sweaty Betty also has four concessions in major department stores and a successful UK and US online store.

It has since branched out into Asia, with 60 stores in total across world and concessions in 99 Nordstrom stores in the US.

A-List celebrities including the likes of Hollywood actress Reese Witherspoon and UK names such as the Duchess of Cambridge’s sister, Pippa Middleton, have in the past been pictured wearing the firm’s products.  

In a history page on its website, detailing the company’s rise, it says: ‘When Simon and I started Sweaty Betty we wanted to empower women through fitness and beyond. 

‘I had always lived this active lifestyle and I wanted everyone else to enjoy it. We’ve now opened 62 shops globally, from Notting Hill to San Francisco, having opened our first US shop in New York in 2013. 

‘I had always been so inspired by the healthy lifestyle over there so we knew we had to be part of it.’ 

Meet the original Sweaty Betty who went from redundancy to becoming the face of a £300million sportswear brand loved by Holywood A-listers such as Reese Witherspoon

Tamara Hill-Norton and her husband Simon, the founders of Sweaty Betty

Tamara Hill-Norton – the real-life Sweaty Betty – had been made redundant when she had a thought – ‘women’s sportswear doesn’t serve women’. She had seen a gap in the market. 

Sportswear, typically, had previously been designed for men and then sized down and recoloured for women – ‘pink it and shrink’ as it was known to those in the indutry.

But what if there was a brand that made women’s sportswear, specifically for women?

The idea Sweaty Betty was born.  After six months of pulling together a business plan and raising money, Tamara launched her first store in Notting Hill in 1998.

She had always been an entrepreneur at heart and as a kid, travelling around the world with her father in the Navy, she dreamed of running her own business.   

‘Even as a kid, I was just like, “I don’t want to work for anyone else, I know what I want to do, I want to run my own business!” I always had that streak in me,’ she said in a background piece on the Sweaty Betty website she would go on to build into a global brand.

After finishing university she launched into a fashion career, originally as a buying assistant with start-up firm called Knickerbox.

It was there she noticed the gap in the market that would be the inspiration behind her soon-to-be multi-million-pound businesses. 

But it would take a redundancy for her to have the time to develop the idea into a solid plan, with the support of her management consultant husband and business co-founder Simon. 

After launching the first store in Notting Hill in 1998, their business quickly grew and in 2001 it was named the Sports Industries Federation ‘sports retailer of the year’

By 2003 the brand had expanded to five boutiques. And three years later the company was opening a concession in upmarket Selfridges and later in Harrods.  

The firm continued to boom, despite the arrival of big-name rivals, and by 2016 the company had more than 40 boutiques around the UK, six in the US, four concessions in major department stores and a successful UK and US online store.

It has since branched out into Asia, with 60 stores in total across world and concessions in 99 Nordstrom stores in the US.

After launching the first store in Notting Hill in 1998, their business quickly grew and in 2001 it was named the Sports Industries Federation ‘sports retailer of the year’

And the brand has built a loyal army of fans, including A-Listers such as Hollywood actress Reese Witherspoon and UK names including the Duchess of Cambridge’s sister, Pippa Middleton, both of whom have been spotted in Swetty Betty gear.

The business wasn’t the only thing growing either. Back at home, in the leafy west London suburb of Acton, Tamara and Simon’s family was expanding too.

The couple now have three children, including eldest Daisy, 21, who is running her own fashion business working in reworked denim.

Daisy regularly posts snaps in sun-soaked locations around the world and has even posed in Sweaty Betty items with her friends.

She also shares surfing pictures in West Wittering in West Sussex, where the family have a weekend home.

Tamara told the Telegraph in 2017: ‘At the weekend we get away to our house in West Wittering as much as possible.

‘We live a very active lifestyle, so we’ll often do watersports or go for a run down the beach.

‘I then like to relax at home with food from my husband’s amazing vegetable garden and a home-made Negroni.’ 

Their other children are Honor, 18, who is an art student, studying in Brighton, and their youngest, Luke, 14.

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