A BLACK Country martial arts academy is planning further expansion following the launch of its Halesowen premises, using a £100,000 loan from Lloyds TSB Commercial.

Martial Art Concepts, which opened its first academy in Halesowen in 1998, provides purpose-built training facilities for a range of disciplines including Jeet Kune Do - made famous by Bruce Lee - Kickboxing, Filipino Kali and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

With a second academy in Dudley, founder Paul Kelly, who has 30 years martial arts experience, approached Lloyds TSB Commercial for funding to relocate the Halesowen business and purchase new premises on Hereward Rise.

The new academy’s facilities have been completely refurbished and now include specialist safety matted areas, private training rooms, new offices, kitchen and toilet facilities.

Since opening the second site earlier this year, the business, which employs seven full-time staff and 35 coaches, has grown its student base to more than 600 and is already looking to further expand by adding a second storey to the building to cope with growing demand for its services.

Mr Kelly and his full-time team also work closely with local schools in the area to teach the children life and self-defence skills, which is boosting attendance at the two academies.

Mr Kelly said: “The business has experienced eight years of solid growth, which is testament to the appetite in the area for quality, disciplined martial arts training facilities.

“When I set up my first full-time academy in Halesowen it was a new business model to the UK but we have since gone from strength to strength.

“The new premises in Halesowen are bespoke to the needs of our students. It is important that people are able to train in a safe environment that is also conducive to developing their martial arts skills and it has proven to be so popular that we have quickly had to apply for planning to extend the premises to satisfy increasing demand.

“When I approached Lloyds TSB Commercial to secure funding for the purchase and refurbishment of the new site, they worked closely with me to ensure that my plans were viable.

“The support and guidance I have received has been second to none and the subsequent funding has been vital to enable the growth of my business.”

Margaret Short, relationship manager at Lloyds TSB Commercial, said: “Paul has an in-depth knowledge and real passion for martial arts, which was borne out in the success of his first business in Halesowen and teaching across the region in local leisure centres.

“When he approached me for support to launch the Halesowen site, it was clear that there was a great appetite in the area for such a facility and I’m pleased to see it turn into such a success.

“By working closely with local schools and the added prominence of the positioning of the new site in the town, the Halesowen academy has seen a surge of local interest.

“With plans now in motion to increase its space, Paul will be in a position to teach anyone interested in the various forms of martial arts that the centre provides.

“We are committed to supporting local businesses that have a strong business model and are looking to grow, so local managers have the authority to lend up to £500,000 to businesses like Martial Art Concepts.”