After leaving college, Christian Stewart travelled the world and during a stay in the south of France he learnt to surf. When he returned to Britain in the early 1990s, he started buying surfing T-shirts from coastal towns and reselling them from his market stall in landlocked Oxford. Surf shops tend to be at coastal resorts, but Stewart knew that not all surfers live by the sea and was happy to set up his first store, Legends Surf Shop, in Oxford in 1992. He also convinced his 40-year-old father, Adrian, who had a background in clothes manufacturing and wholesaling, to join him. Adrian used his contacts to stock the shop with well-known brands such as Quiksilver. There are now 14 Legends shops in England, selling hardware – surfboards, skateboards and BMX bikes – and the clothing and accessories that go with them. ‘The company has carved out a niche by combining surfing and boarding with fashion,’ says Stewart. ‘It was also a good move to open stores in towns far from the coast.’ Legends’ sales have increased by an average of 85% a year, from £663,000 in 1996 to £4.2m in 1999. The company gained a quote on the Ofex market in 1996 and is now valued at almost £4m. It is currently expanding its website, which will offer enthusiasts ‘hardware’ along with information about surfing and skiing hot spots around the world.
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