In 1974 Pete Bland, along with friend Alan Evans, teamed up to form ‘Top Gear’, a small business selling mostly Norman Walsh footwear at fell races from the back of Pete’s car. In 1976 Pete left K Shoes in Kendal, Cumbria, where he had worked for 20 years from leaving school at 15, to join Alan Evans’ company A. E. Design.
In 1977 ‘Pete Bland Sports’ opened its first shop on Waterside in Kendal as part of the A. E. Design Company and in 1978 the name ‘Pete Bland Sports’ was changed to Waterside Adventure Sport, as the business expanded into climbing and cross country ski gear.
Early in 1981 Pete left AE Design and, with his wife Anne, formed Pete Bland Sports. For the first 6 months they operated the business from their home in Staveley and at local events, pulling a trailer behind their car. In September 1981 Pete and Anne bought 34a Kirkland in Kendal, a small ground floor shop with a small flat to the rear. For the next 3 years Anne, along with Pete’s mum, would be seen frequently serving in the shop, as Pete would be on the road as an agent for Madison Cycles, Ron Hill Sports and Norman Walsh.
In 1984 the flat above the shop was bought and through the repositioning of a staircase the shop floor space doubled in size. In 1985 Jon Broxap joined the business and apart from a short spell in Australia at the end of the 80’s is still working there today. In 1990 an extension was built at the rear of the property, doubling the size of the stockroom and creating a shoe fitting room.
In 1998 Pete and Anne’s son Matthew joined the business after graduating from Brunel University, with a degree in Sport and Business Studies. He is in charge of the day to day running of the now Limited Company.
The company continued to develop but suffered a temporary setback during the Foot and Mouth epidemic of 2001 when fell running was particularly restricted. Pete had to take on a part-time job delivering pine furniture in order for the business to survive. However the epidemic brought with it a business opportunity as a local business compensation grant helped Matt set up the Pete Bland Sports internet site.
The lifting of the restrictions on movement on the fells led to an upturn in sales and the business recovered. Pete Bland Sports has now established itself as one of the UK’s leading specialist running shops and internet companies. The purchase of the next door property in Kirkland and its redevelopment, which opened in 2011, doubled the size of the shop and office space allowing for the continuing growth of the business.