ROKT's Euan Noble
Just 14 months since the business was torn apart by the Boxing Day floods, Rokt is scaling new heights as it prepares for its biggest expansion to date
Located in the belly of the former Sugden’s flour mill in Brighouse, ROKT Climbing Gym officially opened its doors to the public back in April 2011.
The site has since undergone continuous design, development and renovation, creating an ever-growing labyrinth of interesting and unique climbing environments.
What started off as a climbing gym soon grew into a multi-use leisure complex complete with its own bar and bouldering gym, attracting the attention of local and national media.
However, when the devastating Boxing Day floods of 2015 gushed through swathes of Yorkshire, it left ROKT and its founder Euan Noble left to literally pick up the pieces.
“It was the kind of time which really tests your resilience,” Euan said. “I think the word resilience is often overused and misunderstood.
“When you see five years’ worth of work submerged under 4-5 ft of water and you know you have months of clean up ahead of you, it is a real test of character.
“Also, we weren’t insured. Like most businesses on rivers or flood plains you can’t get insurance, or if you can, you suffer the loading which is just beyond ridiculous.
“For the subsequent few months it was really a case of my 20+ years in business using every angle and opportunity to get people to come and support us and liaising with the local council.
“There were minimal grants and support available but we managed to withstand a £300,000 loss. My view was, let’s rethink the whole business and add new elements.”
When the floods hit, it was a real community effort that helped Euan and his team get back on track. After the news was aired on local TV, over 150 people turned out to help them fix the damage.
The resilience of the local people really helped ROKT get back on its feet and within three months the business was able to open its doors again.
“The previous summer one of the local BBC presenters brought a family over and we had a lovely day climbing with them,” Euan added.
“I messaged her after the floods hit and she sent a camera crew out immediately, we were on BBC Look North and within two days we had around 150 volunteers turn up to help us.
“You can’t imagine how much manpower that is. If you add in to the word resilience, the hope and inspiration that those people bring, it just spurs you on to do more and not whinge at all.”
It has now been 14 months since the flooding and Euan and his team have bounced back with real momentum.
Not only have they diversified their offering by adding more family and children’s activities, they have also made their biggest investment to date with a new £150,000 expansion.
The expansion will see the introduction of Rock Face, the UK’s largest outdoor climbing wall which is taller than both the Angel of the North and the Tower of London.
Euan believes the expansion will propel the business into further growth and will see visitors from across the UK flocking to Brighouse to have a go.
“We’re expecting it to be the catalyst which will really drive growth,” says Euan. “It’s a £150,000 project but what comes from that is the additional spend locally and the further exposure of the things we have already built.
“We’re hoping it’ll help us double our visitor numbers and accordingly double our turnover.
“Since the flooding we’ve also introduced two Nerf arenas, a brand new climbing training zone which sponsors some GBT climbers and opened some escape rooms as well. We’ve really diversified our offering.”
With the addition of Rock Face, the two new escape rooms, nerf arenas and pub/restaurant, Euan believes he has created a business which is more than simply a climbing centre.
It’s a hub of entertainment for all ages and will help repay the community that has served it so well with a business they can be proud of – driving both economic and social growth.
“We’ve transformed the pub into a restaurant which opened its doors earlier this month. I know it’s crazy to launch a restaurant in the middle of winter but it just means when it gets around to summer we know exactly what we’re doing.
“The spin studio also launched nine months ago, which was a few months after the flooding, and then in the next two-three months after we had the launch of North Flight which is the training/bouldering area for the GBT climbers.
“We also have project breakout opening which is an escape room, we have three of those, the first of which will open mid-March and we have the children’s nerf arenas one which will launch late March and the other mid-April. And then we have the big-ticket item, our massive outdoor climbing wall Rock Face, which launches on 3 May.
“Looking forward we want to ensure everyone of those elements is as good as it can be and that we have matured as a business. We’ve literally been in a state of growth now for 18 months and it’s no secret that change fatigue hits everybody.
“We want to make sure we maintain our high standards and really mature the business. There are so many amazing things we can do, we can do world records, aim for massive charity events, the list of possible options is endless really but the core elements need to be joined together.
“In a nut shell, we want to make the customer experience as good as we possibly can for everybody.”