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Football tour outfit sets goal for growth in the Middle East

AN ambitious business which organises football tours for children is expecting to double turnover by opening an office in the Middle East.

ONSIDE: Andrew Cook, left, and Scott Macfarlane, right, with Euan Reynolds of Royal Bank of Scotland, who helped the two Trans World Soccer directors with business support.
ONSIDE: Andrew Cook, left, and Scott Macfarlane, right, with Euan Reynolds of Royal Bank of Scotland, who helped the two Trans World Soccer directors with business support.

Trans World Soccer arranges trips which let youngsters go to stadiums, train and play at world class facilities, travel on team buses and watch matches in the English Premier League.

It works with clubs including Manchester United, Arsenal, Manchester City, Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland.

The Edinburgh business was founded by university friends Scott Macfarlane and Andrew Cook in 2011 but they only really committed themselves to it full-time in April 2013.

That came following mentoring sessions with Ann Gloag while at Entrepreneurial Spark when the Stagecoach co-founder urged the entrepreneurs to quit their jobs.

Mr Macfarlane said: "She said we needed to jack our jobs in right away. So we did and handed in our notices the next week. We have worked really hard and made a lot of sacrifices but it is looking like we may do ok out of it."

Now Mr Cook, formerly a physical education teacher, is moving to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, to further tap into the growing interest in football in that country as well as the likes of Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

He relocates in August in time for the football season to start and Trans World Soccer expects to hire another staff member there before the end of the year.

Mr Macfarlane, who previously worked at the Glasgow office of marketing agency Material, said: "We think having someone out there on the ground, rather than us flying out every couple of months, is a better model to go forward with."

The company expects its international sales to almost treble as a result of the five-figure investment in its new base.

Mr Macfarlane said: "We sold 11 international trips last year but we have found for a lot of the business out there you can't really do it over email or by phone. You need to go and pitch for it in front of people and shake hands. We feel that if we can turnover 11 from Edinburgh then we should be doing 30 plus having someone there."

Turnover in the 12 months to October this year is predicted to be in the region of £580,000 with the move to Dubai forecast to bring that figure to more than £1 million in the following financial year.

Royal Bank of Scotland relationship manager Euan Reynolds recently helped to organise an overdraft for Trans World Soccer, having first been introduced to the directors while they were at Entrepreneurial Spark.

He said: "Trans World Soccer is growing quickly and it's important we support young entrepreneurial businesses that are showing such promise. The ­international office will take the ­business to the next level and will provide Scott and Andrew with the footing they need to really develop."

Mr Macfarlane is also recruiting with two new staff to be added in the Scottish capital to help cope with an increase in business.

He added: "We are launching a couple of different European options in time for the beginning of next season. We are always looking to widen the suppliers list and this is the time to do it."

The company has a part-time finance director James Hair, who was formerly at EY and is now at Weir Group.

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