Regatta: the China factor

27th September 2019

Keith Black, chairman and chief executive of the family-owned Regatta Group of outdoor clothing companies, told his impressive story at a dinner for Profit Track 100 alumni in Manchester last night.

The dinner was co-hosted by Tony Dean, regional director for the Northwest at Santander, and Rob McCann, corporate finance partner at BDO, together with Fast Track’s founder Hamish Stevenson.

Keith, who started out working for his father’s footwear and workwear business, described the “breakthrough” of visiting China in the early 1980s, where he was able to buy waterproof fabrics at very low prices, before developing the Regatta and Dare2b brands. With operating profits of £24.4m on sales of £260m this year, Regatta Group now supplies outdoor retailers in 57 countries. “I think what sets us apart is our culture,” he said, while outlining the company’s strong values and commitment to supporting charities.

Speaking to the Fast Track camera, Keith said online and international sales are driving growth at the company as it develops its business in China, Eastern Europe and America.



Guest insights

Keith shared his insights with 28 founders and senior directors from 24 Profit Track 100 alumni companies including Amelia Knight Cosmetics, Arup, CarFinance 247, and Urban Splash Group, with combined profits of over £500m and employing 31,000 staff. During the evening guests swapped stories and insights with each other and with the Fast Track team.

Paul Shannon is chief executive of ANS Group, which helps organisations digitise their business and utilise the public cloud, providing services to over 300 commercial and public sector customers, including TrustFord, Greencore and the NHS.



Susan Allan is group finance director of Willerby, which designs and sells more than 7,500 holiday homes and lodges each year. In 2017 private equity firm Equistone, together with management, acquired the company for an undisclosed sum from Caird Capital.



A word from our sponsors

Guests enjoyed networking drinks and dinner with representatives from our sponsors Santander and BDO.


Tony Dean, regional director for the Northwest at Santander welcomed guests and said their companies reflected the strong resilience of private businesses in the region.  “I’ve talked to a diverse range of businesses, each with their own great stories,” he said, “despite the challenges that are so well documented, they are successfully running entrepreneurial businesses and managing whatever is thrown in front of them.”

After dinner Rob McCann, corporate finance partner at BDO, said guests exemplified the drive and dynamism of the Northwest’s private businesses. “Every business here is a real success story and shows the Northwest is a powerhouse in terms of its businesses – truly world class,” he said, “I’m really confident that our businesses are in safe hands.”


More information on the Profit Track 100

For more information about the league table and events programme, see:

For information about our alumni dinners and opportunities for sponsors, visit our sponsorship page:


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