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Fish tackle group nets £1.5m as its shares go public

The group, established by life-long fishing enthusiast Steve Gross, hopes to be the first retailer to consolidate a fragmented market.

There are 2,500 independent tackle shops in the UK, and Gross hopes to expand his chain of seven stores through acquisitions and organic growth.

“The industry is full of enthusiastic fisherman, as opposed to businessmen. But business is my first hobby, then fishing after that,” Gross told City A.M.

“I was in wholesale for 20 years before I came to retail, so I’ve got good knowledge of the size of the shops, the demographics, the age of the owners.”

“We’re well placed to pick up a lot of stores – a lot of them are coming up for retirement, and there is no larger predator in the sector, so there is nowhere for those to sell.”

Gross also plans to expand across the UK from the firm’s base in the north of England.

Institutional investors backed the stock, which will trade on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM).

Gross began fishing aged five, and first sold fishing flies and materials to wholesalers at the age of 13.

He went on to captain the England under-21s fly fishing team.

“I’m a classic workaholic,” he said.

“For me, the business is like a third child, and bringing it to AIM is like that child getting married.”

Northland Capital Partners advised Fishing Republic on the initial public offering.

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