John Letters of Scotland, one of the oldest golf equipment manufacturing companies in the world, is taking on the golf retailers to offer their high quality golf clubs directly to the public both on the Internet and through a UK network of factory shops.
In a bold move, the Glasgow based company, which dates back to 1918, has restructured its entire operation and will offer its entire innovative, high quality range – for which John Letters is synonymous – custom fitted, directly to the public at considerably reduced prices via an new online shop at www.johnlettersdirect.com.
There will also be a stylish factory shop at the company’s Hillington HQ, close to Glasgow’s retail area and road links, which will be swiftly followed by another outlet in north west England. Other locations are under discussion in the Midlands and the south of England.
All this activity will be supported by advertising and PR campaigns in regional, national and specialist media with ongoing, regional road shows to promote its products. To the consumer this means the company will be closer to its customers and they will enjoy direct contact with John Letters highly experienced team of club designers with prices around 50% cheaper than they would be when sold through golf retail outlets.
Gordon White, managing director of John Letters, said, “It has become increasingly difficult to offer the consumer our range of top quality golf clubs at competitive prices as the retail chains are demanding an increasingly bigger margin. American Golf Discount are truly professional retailers who understand the need to work closely with the manufacturers, sadly they are unique in the United Kingdom. When in-store sales staff are paid more commission for selling our clubs than we get for manufacturing them you have to take stock of the situation.
“Rather than have to go down the road of offering inferior quality products in order to make a profit, we decided to go directly to the public. We can no longer supply retailers at a price, which enables us to make a profit and them to make a profit whilst ensuring a competitive price and high quality product for the consumer.
“I don‘t think the public realises how many brand names the retailers actually own, very often they apply that name to cheap, off-the-shelf products, which we consider are largely untested and usually manufactured from inferior materials. These ‘brand owners‘ can buy a set of clubs off the shelf in China for around £30, add the brand name and sell them for £299. John Letters is proud of its heritage and its reputation for innovative, well-produced golf clubs and are not prepared to offer the consumers anything of inferior quality.”
And he added: “By doing this we are not only developing our club range and offering custom fitting, but we can repair and refurbish clubs from our central Glasgow headquarters, staffed by club makers with up to 40 years experience. In many cases, if the client wishes to visit the factory shop, we can do this while they wait.
“The internet has made it possible, for the first time in our 87 year history, for us to link to the public at affordable prices. Key to the whole development is an online shop and secure payment site where customers – anywhere in the world – can select their clubs, provide us with full specifications for a custom fit and pay by credit or debit card. We are very excited by the whole development and we‘re sure golfers will be too.”
John Letters was well known for its wide range of golf bags. Over the past two years they have been unable to offer bags because retailers are importing direct from China. They will now be reintroducing a full range of bags and a John Letters Direct sample price will be £39.99 for a Trilogy Stand Bag instead of the retailers price of around £69.99. Another example is a set of Trilogy T5 Irons, with a 2004 RRP of £299, will have a John Letters Direct price of around £180.
Gordon Rennie is co-owner of John Letters and is the company’s design and development director. He is a highly respected industry figure and is one of last apprentice-trained golf club makers in the world, having worked extensively in Europe, the USA and Asia.
“John Letters has always designed quality equipment,” he said “and we do not want to tarnish that image by descending to a level of buying in cheap products simply to make a profit. By doing this, it allows us to continue to develop our product range at standards which have been synonymous with John Letters of Scotland since 1918.”
The Hillington factory shop will open on Saturday, 5th February. The other factory outlets will open throughout the Spring/Summer, with plans to develop more factory shops in the future.
John Letters of Scotland www.johnlettersdirect.com