The Foremost Group’s third annual supplier conference took place between 13th and 16th November at Center Parcs near Nottingham and was enthusiastically supported by the majority of Foremost’s 225 members and all its major hardware suppliers, including Titleist, Taylor Made and Wilson. Months of meticulous planning culminated in three intensive days of buying and training in preparation for the 2001 season. Foremost’s managing director Paul Hedges attributed the success of the Foremost show to a sound business approach to golf retailing.
The theme for the event was “Focus on the Future” and this was reiterated throughout the three days. One of the highlights was the announcement that Foremost had been acquired by EighteenGlobal, the internet specialist that is dedicated to growing the game of golf by sharing retail and other profits with club professionals and courses. EighteenGlobal’s executives made presentations to the Foremost membership on how they can benefit from the EighteenGlobal concept.
Thirty-three of Foremost’s suppliers displayed their Spring/Summer 2001 ranges and there were training sessions on business planning, EPOS, selling and staff motivation as well as an overview of the group’s marketing plans and key product promotions for 2001. Six of Foremost’s key suppliers also made 30-minute presentations. As part of The Foremost Academy Training programme, a computer-based business planning module was distributed to all members before the event to help them to prepare professional financial, marketing and buying plans.
Foremost members and suppliers alike expressed their delight at the success of the event. Andy Wild from The Leaderboard Golf Club felt that the conference was Foremost’s best so far. “The staging was excellent and Foremost’s management have worked very hard to ensure that the membership are well prepared to make sound buying decisions,” he said. “I was particularly excited about the link up with EighteenGlobal. It will make a big difference with the ordering side of my business, helping me to streamline my stocking whilst maintaining margins and generating extra business by selling fringe stock and extra income-generators such as holidays through the internet.”
Members were united in their praise for The Business Planning Program, just one of the elements contributed by Crossover Marketing. The computer-based module enables pros to assess their own business performance compared to the rest of the Foremost Group and the golf market as a whole. In a step-by-step process it then guides them through preparing their own marketing, financial and buying plans. By inputting a few figures on turnover, overheads, margins etc. the program prepares a full set of financial reports including balance sheets, cash flow forecasts and profit and loss reports. Andy Wild said, “The new Business Plan is fantastic and makes the whole planning process more straightforward”. Martin Heggie, from Carlisle agreed, saying, “The work that has gone into it is excellent and it’s what my business has been crying out for.”
Supplier presentations were well attended and delegates were enthusiastic about the way suppliers presented their merchandise both in the exhibition and at the presentations. Ian Bamborough from The Gog Magog Club in Cambridgeshire was pleased with the general emphasis on profitability.
Nike and Prosimmon were two of Foremost’ newest suppliers who made an impression with delegates. Graham Coombe from The Isle of Wedmore Golf Club told us, “Custom-fitting is becoming an increasingly important part of our business and I particularly liked Prosimmon’s approach. Their computerised system is very visual and user-friendly. Everything is done for you on screen and clubs are available from open stock, making Prosimmon a very cost-effective option.”
David Stirke, UK golf sales manager of Nike, said delegates had shown a tremendous interest in the Nike range. “There has been a constant queue of pros at the stand throughout the 3 days,” he said. “We are pleased with the amount of business we have written.”
Roger Chalkley from Prosimmon felt the show had really cemented his company’s relationship with Foremost members. “We were very pleased and surprised at the incredible interest shown by the delegates in our custom-fit and non-standard stock programme and we look forward to working with many Foremost pros in the future.”
Wilson is another company that has enjoyed enormous support for their custom-fitting service from Foremost, which they have made available exclusively through Foremost pros. This strategy has paid off handsomely as Neil Parker, Wilson’s national sales manager, highlighted in a presentation to delegates. “By concentrating custom-fitting sales through the Foremost Group, Wilson sold over 700 made-to-measure sets during the season, through just 75 units – an average of almost 10 sets per shop. Top performers sold in excess of 30 sets. As a result we will be putting in more units and will continue to give Foremost exclusivity.”
David Briance from JRB claimed that the event had been Foremost’s most successful supplier show to date. “Our experience from previous years enabled us to improve our preparations and create a better buying environment for delegates. We wrote to all members individually before the event explaining what we would be exhibiting. This paid dividends and meant that delegates came prepared to buy. “
Ian Bamborough echoed this sentiment. “Each year the conference gets more and more refined. Suppliers understand better what we are looking for and as buyers our objectives are becoming more focused. This makes it a rewarding event for everyone concerned.”
In a year when many golf professionals have been talking about doom and gloom, Foremost is clearly getting something right and is always interested in talking to prospective new members or suppliers.