The origins of a family business
Gymnastics Express are known the world over but are, in essence, a hard working family business, proud of its roots in the North East of England.
It was established in 1963 by my father, Ian Wilton. Ian had already successfully operated several companies, in industries such as shipping.
And it was whilst sourcing alternative cargos for ships that were being sent around the world and returning less than full that Ian came across magnesium carbonate, "chalk" for gymnasts. A light bulb moment!
In the process of visiting gym clubs to show them the quality of this chalk, Ian was asked if he could supply hand protection for gymnasts with sore hands. And so, we made our first handguards (grips) and began designing further gymnast-related products at the same time as importing other makes of equipment.
A new era – going global
In the 1980s, I entered the business to help develop the product range. My background is in inventing and engineering, which has proved to be an invaluable asset over the years. Gymnastics Express is now the world leader in custom-fit handguards and we feel honoured that many of our own creations have been embraced by the Gymnastics industry at large.
Today, we are the only UK manufacturer of High Bar, Uneven Bar and Ring Guards. Designed and developed in our rural factory in North Northumberland, in 2010 we launched our ground-breaking brand "Manique". Thanks to the influence of the internet and eCommerce.
Manique products – together with our extensive range of gymnastics essentials and must-have accessories - are sold across the globe. Not just in the UK and Europe, but as far afield as the USA and Australia.
Whilst my father Ian is sadly no longer with us, my wife Susan and son Andy are very much part of the company focusing on our manufacturing. We are also blessed to have an extended family of highly skilled, committed and hardworking staff working alongside us. This amazing team is responsible for exceptional manufacturing, customer relations and support.
In 2022, we have expanded our capacity for distribution with a well-known gymnastic retailer in the North East of England. We look forward to bringing you our quality British made products under the Gymnastics Express brand for many years to come.