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20 Feb 2024
Soul Padel to get seed investment status – takes on Ben Davies as non-exec
By Liz Terry
Soul Padel to get seed investment status – takes on Ben Davies as non-exec
Padel tennnis – played outdoors and indoors – is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world
Photo: Shutterstock/Damiano Buffo
Mark Hewlett, founder of padel tennis operator Soul Padel has told HCM the company is in the process of securing seed investment status, which will enable backers to get tax breaks on investments in the business to drive growth.

The status is coming via the UK government HMRC seed enterprise investment scheme (SEIS), with Soul Padel being supported in its application by Sam Simpson at Founder Catalyst.

Under SEIS rules, investors receive initial tax relief of 50 per cent on their investments up to £100,000 (or £200,000 for shares issued on or after 6 April 2023) and Capital Gains Tax exemption for any gains on SEIS shares held for at least three years.

The company has also signed Ben Davies, founder of hedge fund Hinde Capital and a former GB hockey player, as a non-exec to support business investment and growth.

Soul Padel is aiming to open a number of indoor facilities – including a centre of excellence for padel – to meet growing demand.

The company is also planning to create community hubs for padel at locations across the north-west of England.

Hewlett, who founded Soul Padel in December 2023, is looking to partner with health and fitness and sports facility owners with land or buildings that can be developed for padel in joint ventures, as well as developing facilities independently.

Padel tennis and its close relative, pickleball, have been adopted at scale by health and fitness operators in the US, including Life Time, which has already installed 600 pickleball courts across its network, while in the UK, David Lloyd got into padel in 2013 and has continued to invest in the sport, ramping up its plans in recent months, although it has reportedly encountered issues developing padel courts without planning permission.

A 2023 the Global Padel Report,
produced by Deloitte and Playtomic, identified the padel industry as likely to be worth €2bn by 2026. It also said the number of courts is expected to double from 40,000 to 85,000 in the same period globally.

“The UK is an early-stage market for padel and in 2023 the sport saw a doubling of courts to around 400 across the country in the space of 12 months,” said Hewlett. “In the UK, padel has in excess of 90,000 players and is also backed and regulated by the Lawn Tennis Association.”

Soul Padel recently announced a partnership with Spanish padel court manufacturer and installer, Padel 1969.

Hewlett said: “Now is the right time for investors to be putting money into padel, which is recognised as one of the fastest growing sports in the world.

“Padel offers a diversified investment opportunity into the rapidly expanding ‘competitive socialising’ sector and securing SEIS status signals to the market that we’re serious about the growth of the business,” he said.

ABOUT SEIS
Data from HMRC, published in May 2023, showed that 2,270 companies raised a total of £205 million via the SEIS scheme in the tax year 2021-2022, the highest amount since the launch of the scheme. Most (69 per cent in that tax year) received investments of over £50,000

In the tax year 2021-2022, around 45 per cent of companies raised amounts over £100,000, compared to 39 per cent in tax year 2020-2021. Businesses in recreation, arts and entertainment accounted for around five per cent of funds invested.

Regionally, companies registered in London and the south-east accounted for the largest proportion of investment, raising £137 million (67 per cent of SEIS investment) in 2021-2022. Businesses from the north-west accounted for less than 10 per cent.

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