Cheshire-based american golf, originally founded by two golf enthusiasts in a garden shed back in the 1970s, is defying gloomy conditions in the retail sector with the store openings in Hedge End, near Southampton, Stevenage and Canterbury.
The openings are part of american golf’s plans to add 30 stores to its portfolio during the next three years, creating 250 new jobs in the process and come after the company posted record sales of £133m for the financial year ending January 2013.
The retailer said the presence of four British golfers in the world’s top 10 and Europe’s Ryder Cup success was helping to drive greater interest in the sport amongst amateurs, while the number of female golfers was also increasing.
The number of golfers is the UK is estimated to be 4 million, who spend a up to £400m on equipment each year, according to figures from the BGIA (British Golf Industry Association).
american golf’s new stores at Hedge End and Stevenage are its latest ‘concept’ stores, which combine technological advancements, such as virtual reality golf nets and video swing analysis, alongside PGA qualified professionals to help amateurs improve their performance.
american golf will also use its new concept stores to trial the latest products and technology on the market. Its Hedge End store is piloting the K-Vest system, which uses wireless sensors located on a golfer’s body to produce a 3-D biomechanical profile of their swing. The information is available in real time via video analysis and can be used to correct faults and improve the mechanics of a golfers’ swing.
Kevin Styles, american golf’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “As the business was founded in the North West of England our store portfolio is naturally weighted towards the North and Scotland. We believe there are significant growth opportunities for us in other parts of the country and especially in the South, as there are more golfers in this area than anywhere else in the UK.
“We help golfers improve their performance by providing specialist advice and the equipment that is most suited to their game. It is about saving them shots when they are out there on the course. We are confident this approach will help us break into new locations.”
The latest store openings have created 30 new jobs and future improvements across the estate include the creation of a ‘store within a store’ concept to cater for the growing number of female golfers, which currently represent 15% of all players.
american golf’s Operations Director, Peter O’Riordan, added: “The new concept of stores we are introducing are a direct result of feedback received from our customers. The research we carried out showed they want to understand how the right equipment can help them hit longer, straighter and improve their overall scores.
“This is what we are creating in our new stores. The combination of technological advances, the widest brand offering and expert counsel from PGA professionals ensure that our customers receive the best retail golf experience in Europe.”
Following the latest store openings, Warrington-headquartered american golf has 103 stores nationwide and employs around 800 staff.