Lightning 50 Sector Special: Sports, Leisure & Hobbies Brands Are Top of the League

Brightpearl’s Lightning 50 was launched in 2021 to recognize the UK’s fastest-growing online brands. With the full shortlist now announced, we’re taking a closer look at the sectors that have seen some of the most impressive results. 

In this blog, we’re looking at the sports, leisure and hobbies sector

When the pandemic forced gyms, sports centres and hobbyist groups to close, millions of people went online in search of retail brands who could help them get the same experience in their own home. 

The eight sports, leisure and hobbies merchants that made the Lightning 50 are shining examples of how some businesses in this sector rose to the challenge of huge demand – and reaped the rewards. 

A Fitness Phenomenon

“From supplying us with home gym equipment to helping us discover new pastimes, retailers from the sports, leisure and hobbies sector were a lifeline for lots of us through lockdown,” said Mark Hook, Global Director of Comms at Brightpearl.

“The Lightning 50 highlights some of the phenomenal success some merchants have achieved, despite hugely challenging circumstances. 

“What’s also clear is the role tech has played in the success of the retailers in this sector – from having a flexible operating system to running smart marketing campaigns, tech is key for those that want to adapt and thrive.”

Let’s look at some of the sports, leisure and hobbies brands that made the list…


Lightning 50 ranking: 2

Revenue increase: 2,960%

Powerhoop is one of the top brands behind the new fitness craze of hula hooping.  Powerhoop offers a leading range of weighted hula hoops, alongside fitness classes all over the world, online courses, on-demand workouts and instructor training.

The business won second place on the Lightning 50 after achieving a staggering 2,690% leap in revenue. With Brightpearl powering its backend operations, the company was able to adapt and optimize its offering to maximise results in a pandemic year. 

Sous Chef

Lightning 50 ranking: 12

Revenue increase: 331%

Sous Chef is the place-to-be online for cooks and chefs – with ingredients, equipment, tableware and gifts inspired by leading restaurants and international food.

The business tripled its revenue in 2020 – and put it down to three factors: outstanding supplier relationships, so it could get stock when competitors couldn’t, strong search rankings for long-tail keywords, and a laser-sharp focus on operational delivery throughout the Christmas trading period.

The winning operational combo of Shopify and Brightpearl also helped.


Lightning 50 ranking: 17

Revenue increase: 267%

Velorution offers the largest selection of folding bikes, classic British-made cycles, design-led European urban bikes, and premium scooters in the UK. With a focus on premium quality products at affordable prices, the brand has developed a reputation as the preferred destination of the urban cyclist.

With many of us having more time and inclination to cycle throughout the pandemic, Velorution has experienced impressive growth – increasing revenue by 267%. 

Top 5 tech driving growth in the sports, leisure and hobbies sector: 

  1. Google ads
  2. Instagram
  3. Shopify
  4. Brightpearl
  5. Klaviyo

Do you run a sports, leisure and hobbies brand that’s doing awesome things?

Register your interest for next year’s Lightning 50 by clicking here