american golf, Europe’s leading multi-channel retailer of golf equipment and accessories, has set out plans to accelerate growth over the next three years after opening its 100th store and posting record sales.
In the 12 months to 31 January 2013, the Warrington-headquartered retailer grew total sales 3% to £133m, citing its singular focus on improving the performance of its customers’ game as the key driver.
In the same period, the group’s club card membership rose by more than 160,000 to pass the 1 million mark, accounting for a claimed 25 per cent of all UK golfers and underlining its dominant position in the market.
The group, which employs a PGA Pro in every store, said the results were even more impressive given the challenging backdrop for the retail sector and the impact of adverse weather conditions on the number of rounds played, which fell by 13%. Despite these difficulties, american golf’s share of the UK’s retail golf market increased by 28%, meaning the business is now more than five times bigger than its nearest competitor.
Last month, american golf opened its 100th store in Gateshead under its new format. This is the first of a new breed of specialist golf retail stores, which raise the bar in terms of brand offering, range authority, expert advice and state of the art club fitting.
Now, the business has set out plans to open up to 30 new stores over the next three years, including 10 during the first quarter. This, alongside further significant investment in its UK and European e-commerce business – which currently delivers around 12% of total sales – is expected to increase revenue by 40%.
It said its growth plans would create around 250 new jobs, taking its current headcount of 775 to over 1,000.
Under its multi-channel strategy, new innovations planned in the year ahead include the introduction of iPad capability, which will enable all stores to sell customers any product in the entire range and have it in-store or at the customer’s home by noon the next day. This follows significant investment over the last 12 months in its e-commerce business to further improve functionality, capability, logistics and the overall user experience.
The group will also be introducing a new ladies “store within a store” concept, creating 11 centres of excellence across its estate as a destination for the growing number of female golfers, which currently represent around 15% of all players.
Kevin Styles, who joined as CEO of american golf in June last year, said: “Last year was a game-changing one for the business. We delivered record sales and, more importantly, made some major improvements and investments to get the platform right for our next growth phase. This included strengthening our e-commerce business, developing the best golf retail store format in Europe, further strengthening our merchandising & range authority and investing in our people.
“What didn’t change was our focus on helping customers improve their performance, by providing them with the best advice, expert fitting and the kit that’s right for their game. It’s all about saving our customers more shots. Performance is our proposition, and this is backed up by the expertise of our team, state of the art club fitting technology, the widest product choice, great value and the best multi-channel experience in the sector.”
“To emphasise why the combination of expert advice from our staff and bespoke club fitting is so important, we recently undertook some detailed research which produced compelling results. More than 700 golfers were tested using their current clubs and were then fitted for the clubs which best suited their game by one of our PGA Pros. The difference was an average 15.3 yard gain in the driver and a 10 yard gain using the irons, with narrower dispersals. For most golfers improving the length and accuracy of their game is akin to golfing heaven.”
Commenting on the group’s growth plans, the company’s new CFO, Stuart Owens, added: “We occupy a position of real strength in the sector as Europe’s leading specialist multi-channel golf retailer in a global and growing sport. Combined with a solid financial platform and an unrivalled proposition, we see enormous potential to continue growing the business and consolidate our position as the dominant European leader in golf retail.”
During the year, the company’s best performing stores were Braidhills in Edinburgh, Clydebank in Glasgow and New Malden in Surrey.
The business, which retails the leading brands in golf, including Callaway, TaylorMade, Titleist, Ping, Cobra, Nike, Wilson, Mizuno, Adidas, Galvin Green, Footjoy and Puma, was founded in the late 1970s by brothers Howard and Robert Bilton with a single store in Ashton in Makerfield. An affiliate of Sun European Partners acquired a majority stake in american golf from private equity firm LDC in December 2011.
american golf by Citypress.
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