American Golf has reported a record year in the company’s 52-year history, with total sales topping £166m for the financial year ending January 30, 2022 – up 43.8% compared to the previous 12 months.
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, before exceptional costs for the financial year, was £12.8m, marking a significant swing from £1.6m in 2020-21. The figures represent a remarkable turnaround for the business, which lost £3.9m in 2019 when it was acquired by private equity investor Endless LLP in October 2018.
The business bucked UK retail trends with sales in bricks and mortar stores outstripping ecommerce sales by more than two to one. Over £108.5m was generated via physical retail sales, compared to £44.1m spent online.
The remainder of sales were driven by American Golf’s owner International Leisure Group‘s expansion into golf ranges, as well as the company’s International Leisure Brands division, which includes leading Germany-based golf fashion brand Golfino, which the business has recently bolstered by signing Germany’s Golfer of the Year and German National Team pro golfer Esther Henseleit, who will be endorsing Golfino clothing and footwear.
American Golf now has 95 stores in the UK and Ireland, as well as a buoyant ecommerce operation. According to Golf Datatech analysis, the retailer enjoyed a 31.4% share of the UK golf market in 2021, with apparel commanding a 56.1% share in December 2021.
ILG is embarking on £6m investment programme during the next 12 months which will create 50 new jobs in the UK, taking the group’s total employees to over 1,000. This will involve the procurement of family golf centre Golf Kingdom in Essex, five new site acquisitions and the refurbishment of 17 existing stores. ILG is also planning to add 30 new leisure sites to its portfolio by the end of 2027, consisting of stores, golf ranges, food and beverage and adventure golf offerings.
Last year saw ILG invest in technology-driven store refurbishments including Greater Manchester’s flagship American Golf store in Trafford. The company also made its first leisure acquisitions of entire golf courses, including Cheshire’s High Legh Golf Club, Cambridgeshire’s Hemingford Abbots Golf Club and Lancashire’s Rossendale Golf Centre, where adventure golf and the company’s family-friendly Il Corso Italian-American dining concept is being rolled out.
American Golf’s own equipment, apparel and footwear brands, including Benross, Rife, Fazer and Stromberg are also proving popular with all levels of golfer.
Gary Favell, CEO of ILG and American Golf, said: “We’ve taken what was an ordinary golf retailer and reimagined the user experience to create immersive, technologically-advanced environments that everyone can enjoy – men, women and children of all ages, backgrounds and abilities – we’ve made the sport accessible to all. Couple this with a lively acquisition strategy, of strong, multi-category golf brands and golf courses, and the result is year-on-year double-digit growth since 2019 and a leading market share.”
Gifting in stores and online was also a big revenue generator for the company, with over £8.8m worth of gift vouchers and e-gift cards purchased during the last financial year.
American Golf’s drive to make golf more accessible and inclusive has been demonstrated by partnerships with world number one disability golfer Brendan Lawlor; LET & LPGA professional Carly Booth, and support of the HANDA World Invitational event, which sees male and female golfers compete for equal prize funds, and sponsorship of the Rose Ladies Series.