Irish-founded indoor rock climbing company raises £4m

Ged MacDomhnaill’s Climbing Hangar plans to double in size with economies of scale

The Climbing Hangar, an Irish-founded company seeking to build a chain of indoor rock climbing centres throughout Britain, has raised £4 million (€4.7 million) to aid expansion.

Founded and led by Ged MacDomhnaill, who hails from Lisburn, Co Antrim, the company already has five centres open across Liverpool, London, Swansea and Plymouth, with a new facility in Sheffield nearing completion and planning permission secured for another in Exeter.

Having opened in 2011, the Climbing Hangar typically draws a combined 12,000 climbers to its centres each month. It employs about 100 people.

The new financing, which has been provided by Mercia’s Northern Venture Capital Trust Funds, brings to £10 million the total raised by the company to date.


Mr MacDomhnaill said he is looking to double the size of the company over the next 18 months with a further five centres to be opened.

Urban presence

“We think that most British cities could carry at least one climbing centre and that some like London could have up to 20 while Manchester could easily host five comfortably. Ideally I’d like to see us establish a presence in all major urban centres,” he said.

Mr MacDomhnaill admits that it is quite the task to attempt to achieve in 18 months what it has taken the company 11 years to do. However, he says, as it has grown, the Climbing Hangar has become considerably more professional.

"When this started we were just passionate climbers and wanted to avoid doing proper work. For the first 15 months in business I pretty much lived in a big cupboard on the premises. We were helped by the fact that Team GB Olympic climber Shauna Coxsey was our first employee and her success has coincided with our own," he said.

Irish insurance costs

Mr MacDomhnaill expressed an interest in expanding to Ireland at some future point but said he had been put off by stories regarding spiralling insurance costs.

"Relentless growth is on the agenda and, as that happens, we will benefit from economies of scale. We've plenty of opportunities here and haven't even looked at some regions like Scotland yet," he said.

The businessman said while there will be standardisation across the group, he wants every centre to have its own unique identify

“People want consistency but the idea of having the same thing replicated time and time again completely bores the crap out of me if I’m honest and we want each centre we have to have its own look and feel,” he said.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist