A perfect fit for outdoor gear for more than 90 years – Ellis Brigham

Kirsty McLuckie on an outdoor equipment retailer in its 90th year that takes pride in the excellent service and expertise offered by its dedicated staff
Ellis Brigham – kitting out adventurers and snowsports enthusiasts across Britain since 1933. Stock imageEllis Brigham – kitting out adventurers and snowsports enthusiasts across Britain since 1933. Stock image
Ellis Brigham – kitting out adventurers and snowsports enthusiasts across Britain since 1933. Stock image

This year sees the 90th anniversary of Ellis Brigham. To those of us who enjoy our outdoor pursuits, the name will be familiar, as the company has been kitting out adventurers and snowsports enthusiasts since 1933.

The Manchester-headquartered chain retailer is now run by the second and third generation of the family, and their story is one of adaption down the years.

From its origins, selling running spikes and climbing boots in 1930s, Ellis Brigham has embraced advances in the technology of equipment designed for high performance, safety and comfort. But the personalised service that the brand was built on has never changed, according to director, Mark Brigham.

He says: “We have 16 stores around the country – including Braehead in Glasgow, Fort William and Aviemore – but the focus has always been on the range of the services and the expertise offered by our staff. We have 400 employees, but the customer is at the heart of everything.

“In terms of comfort and performance, the type of clothing and equipment we sell is very much an investment and we encourage people to maximise their investment by maintaining the life of each item.”

Customers range from the novice who might just be looking for a pair of ski gloves or goggles to athletes at the top of their sport looking for a specialist item.

But each purchase is guided by expert staff, many of whom will have tried and tested the products themselves, and the idea is to fit each purchase to the customer.

As Mark comments: “It is important to get it right because it can make a difference between an enjoyable day on the hills and potentially the absolute opposite.”

Ski boots are a case in point. A badly fitted pair can have an adverse effect on a skier’s confidence and enthusiasm for the activity, so the process of finding exactly the right ones should be exacting.

At Ellis Brigham, customers book a two-hour slot for a ski boot fitting, starting with staff determining a customer’s level of expertise and what their aspirations are.

An explanation of how boots should fit is followed by trying on some options – however, the chain’s stores offer more than 150 alternatives, so again experienced advice might be needed to narrow that choice down.

Once chosen, the boots are then heat moulded to the customer’s feet and stores also offer custom footbeds, for extra comfort and support, which also can improve the performance of the boot by stabilising the foot.

The system used, SUREfit, is a process that looks at a skier’s history, individual foot shape, and biomechanics, taking previous injuries and medical problems into account.

Mark then advises customers to wear their purchase at home for a few hours if possible. He explains: “It can be useful to try them while you are cooking or doing the hoovering, so if there are any tweaks needed that can be done before you go skiing rather than discovering it when you are already on the slopes.”

Such tweaks are free of charge, at Ellis Brigham and continue to be so up to a couple of years after purchase.

Mark underlines the importance of the custom fit. “A badly fitting boot can completely dominate your day and put novices off continuing. It just sucks the enjoyment out of it. There are other bits of kit you can borrow, but it isn’t a good idea to do it with boots.”

Ellis Brigham outlets also offer in-store ski servicing whether it be a little TLC, such as a wax and edge, bigger adjustments, or repair – the technicians at the retailer have the knowledge and skills to perform these tasks to the highest level.

And the company offers regular repair events for clothing, to restore functionality to well-loved pieces.

As Mark maintains: “It is all about prolonging the life of your investment.”

Join in the snow sports weekend

Ellis Brigham’s RE-treat weekend takes place at Braehead on Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th January 2024.

Join the team at Ellis Brigham for their RE-treat weekend, 2 days where you can get your snowsports gear renewed and repaired, exclusive offers, and prizes up for grabs. They’ll be experts on hand to answer all your snowsports questions, restore your favourite ski and snowboard clothing, wax and edge your beloved skis or snowboard to get them slope-ready. Plus Saturday from 4pm they’ll be bringing the Après atmosphere with DJ, beer tasting and mulled wine – not to be missed.

Find our more: www.ellis-brigham.com