A big leap online for Harry Hall in the equestrian market

Picture from below of horse and female rider clearing a jump, silhouetted against a cloudy sky.

© Getty Images (Tomazl).

A Bradford-based company that has been selling equestrian wear and horse-riding gear since 1891 has seen strong growth in e-commerce sales after help from Innovate UK EDGE to connect more directly with owners and riders.

Harry Hall International has expanded beyond equipment and clothing into other products and services, including insurance. 

It has developed its on-line capability to become a one-stop shop for owners and riders' needs and to market innovations developed in-house. These innovations include a horse blanket that is fitted with an infra-red heating system for the animal’s wellbeing and faster recovery. 

Increase in turnover and headcount 

The engagement with Innovate UK EDGE contributed to a 59% (£180,000) increase in turnover in 2020, with further growth of more than 60% expected in 2021. The company is hoping to achieve a three-fold rise in membership of its ‘One Club’ over the next two years. 

With three new roles created as a result, Harry Hall now employs 30 people at its premises in Wibsey, Bradford, including the design team. Manufacturing is carried out overseas.

Business review

Jane McGeeney, an Innovate UK EDGE innovation and growth specialist, was called in late in 2019 to help managing director Liz Hopper and her team in evaluating the business model and value proposition for horse owners and riders. The business review looked at internal processes too.

As services expanded into a digital retail and membership offer, the onus was on the company to be even more innovative and responsive to market-driven clothing trends and associated technology.

In her advisory role, Jane helped the company to explore closer relationships with owners and riders through riding clubs and equestrian member organisations. Jane had support from colleagues Gail Leathley, looking at the international market, and Andy Taylor. 

Jane said: “The idea was to accelerate the growth in membership by connecting with the grass roots. The effort made in investing in those relationships has really paid off, with membership growing from 16,000 to 25,000.”

Thinking outside of the box

Liz said: “Innovate UK EDGE has helped to ‘push’ the executives to think outside the box and become more future-focused rather than being immersed in the today.

“We have made a good start but there’s always work to do ensuring we scope and land projects on time.”

She added: “I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Jane and the team. The strategy and innovation templates are great tools and easy to grasp but certainly provoke good discussion.”

The Innovate UK EDGE programme has helped to ‘push’ the executives to think outside the box and become more future-focused rather than being immersed in the today.'

Liz Hopper, managing director, Harry Hall International.