Chief gorilla hopes zip wire trekking will wow

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THE ‘chief gorilla’ and co-founder of Go Ape has revealed he is working on an exciting new project which he hopes will have the same ‘wow’ factor.

At a time when many firms are being cautious, the high wire adventure firm is ‘trusting its gut’.

It has plans to nearly double its UK operation from 28 centres, while investing around £1 million a year to create about 100 new jobs.

“The Government tells us the only way for the country to get out of this economic situation is for SMEs to create jobs.

“It is risky but we have always gone with our gut instinct,” said Tristram Mayhew, who co-founded the company with his wife Rebecca at Thetford Forest 11 years ago.

“We have some new concepts we are working on, which we hope will have the same wow reaction that we got to Go Ape,” Trustram said.

“The idea is for zip wire trekking across valleys. There will be parellel zip wires and the idea is that you can explore the landscape.

““East Anglia presents a bit of a problem for this as you can imagine so we are probably looking at Sussex or Hampshire.”

Go Ape, which employs about 500 people, continues to be a success with Brits defying this year’s poor weather to take to the tree tops. Although visitor numbers are down seven per cent, the leisure industry in general has seen numbers fall by nearly a third.

Meanwhile a partnership in America has so far created three sites, but could create another 25 over the next three years.

“We recognise that there is a potential to try what we have done in America in other growth markets like China, Brazil and Russia,” Tristram said.

But he said language and cultural barriers meant that this was a longer term aspiration.

“Venture capitalist companies are keen to work with us. We have always said no. Our worry is that if you take investment it is as good as selling the company,” Tristram said.

Still the offers roll in.

“We had a company which runs a pier on the South coast. who want to put up zip wires and wanted the Go Ape brand because of its kite mark of good quality and customer awareness,” Tristram said.

“In the end we decided it wasn’t for us.”

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