A Lake District sports footwear firm is preparing to launch an innovative new design as it reveals it has been bought back by its founder.
Wayne Edy is back leading inov-8, based at Staveley, near Kendal.
He bought the sports company from Descente last year and has kept it under wraps while spearheading the design of a revolutionary new running shoe.
The shoe will be the world’s first-ever to feature a graphene-enhanced foam, called G-FLY, and has been developed in collaboration with the University of Manchester.
The planet’s strongest material and a Nobel Prize winner, graphene has been infused into the foam of the new shoe to help improve the performance of trail and ultramarathon runners.
inov-8 plans to launch the shoe on March 24, and the shoes are set to go on sale shortly afterwards.
Mr Edy, who founded inov-8 in 2003 and now owns 100 per cent of the business outside of Northern Asia, said: “I’m delighted to be back at the helm ahead of what is an exciting new chapter.
“We benefited from being part of the Descente group from 2015 to 2020, but we’re now independent again and preparing for our biggest ever product launch next month.
“I’m proud to lead such a talented global team and can’t wait to unveil our new shoe, heralding the future of trail running.”
inov-8 pioneered the use of graphene in 2018 when launching graphene-enhanced rubber.
It said sales of its running, hiking and fitness shoes featuring the wonder-rubber have surged over the last three years.
Now, once again teaming up with The University of Manchester and leading footwear veteran Doug Sheridan, inov-8’s new shoe boasts three patent-pending technologies.
Michael Price, inov-8 chief operating officer, said: “We’re bringing together the worlds of science and sport, and combining them with innovation and entrepreneurial agility to go up against the major sports brands – and we’re going to win.”
As well as being 200 times stronger than steel, graphene is also the world’s thinnest material and boasts astonishing flexibility.
A team of over 300 staff at The University of Manchester has pioneered projects into graphene-enhanced sports cars, medical devices, aeroplanes and sports footwear.
Mr Edy said it was risky buying the firm during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it was an easy decision.
He added: “After a very uncertain period in which we reluctantly furloughed some of the team during the first lockdown, we quickly restructured and brought clear focus to the business.
“My instincts were to continue investing and, despite most of the team working from home, by the end of the year we had made an incredible recovery, leaving 2020 a much stronger business with a highly motivated team.
“Now, with momentum under our feet and awards coming in thick and fast, we can accelerate, using ground-breaking product innovations to grow in 2021 and beyond.”