Global Edition

Mixed reactions to Première Golf

4.00pm 20th November 2002 - Exhibitions & Conferences

The show, now in its third year at the Marbella Congress Palace on the Costa del Sol, attracted a wide range of exhibitors and, despite coming at the end of one of the most difficult trading years in history, Première Golf also recorded a slight increase in the number of visitors

Golf Business has spoken with a large number of exhibitors and their reactions and comments are recorded below.

“We were delighted with Première Golf 2002,” said Ian Stringfellow, marketing director of Spalding UK, manufacturers of equipment under the Ben Hogan, Top Flite, Strata and Etonic brands.

“The Spalding stand was busy throughout the week. We registered very healthy bookings for our 2003 range, with most of the visitors placing increased orders.”

Nigel Freemantle, managing director of Brand Fusion International Ltd, formerly ND Sports, was delighted with the show. “Première Golf 2002 was a successful show for Brand Fusion International Ltd,” he said. “We had over 100 profile customers visit the stand where we were able to present our latest products. We were also able to launch our new identity under Brand Fusion International Ltd. After trading under the name of ND Sports for more than 20 years, we needed to make sure everyone knew who we were, and that the excellent products, pricing and service remains unchanged!”

“The show is an excellent way of us getting to see our Nevada Bob franchisees and Tartan & EuroPro members, as well as our European distributors,” he continued. “We hope the show will be as well supported next year.”

LongDogJNR, a leading US manufacturer of junior golf equipment, viewed the show with some satisfaction. Laurie Flynn, managing director of LongDogJNR Europe commented, “We came to this trade show with set goals, of which finding a Spanish & Portuguese distributor was our top priority. Simply put, we achieved target, the quality of the attending visitors was excellent and we had a profitable show.”

“We found the show well worthwhile,” said Rohan Barnett from the newly-formed Organisation of Golf Range Operators. “The stand was busy throughout, indeed we were still talking to new people as we were trying to pack up. While we made some new connections in the UK, it was especially helpful to meet colleagues from the European golf industry. If the show is run again next year we will certainly be there.”

But for Quadrant Video Première Golf was a big disappointment. “It was obvious for everyone to see that there was a sad lack of numbers,” said Chris Jolly, “and I would be very surprised to see the event continue.”

Warren Sunderland, chairman of Sunderland of Scotland Ltd and a respected elder statesman of the golf industry, spoke frankly. “I feel that, though we had quite a lot of good attention and wrote some significant business, the middle day (the longest one!) was awful in terms of attendance,” he said. “Generally one would have to feel that despite Reed’s best efforts to attract buyers they were not there in sufficient quantity. The number and, to a lesser extent, the quality of exhibitors was also insufficient to ensure that those who came will return.”

“I believe this has all the necessary ingredients to be an excellent show,” he continued, “but the interest levels it manages to generate suggest otherwise. I’m disappointed and feel that if this doesn’t work nothing else will!”

Neil Martin from Swilken of St Andrews felt that this was the best-organised Première Golf to date and was pleased with the business he had written. The absence of the largest equipment companies, however, had been a big disappointment to many of the show’s visitors who had said that there just wasn’t enough to see.

“I still believe the concept of Marbella as a venue is a good one,” said Marcus Illingworth of USP Brands, adding that he had several suggestions for improvements which he would be making directly to the organisers.

Kevin Woolgar from Meridian Golf said that orders taken were 60% up on previous years but he was also disappointed that there were so few manufacturers at the show. He said that there should be restrictions on stand size so that the largest companies would not feel obliged to compete on the basis of whose stand was the biggest and the most grandiose. This should keep their exhibition costs down to an affordable level.

European director for Jencess Software and Technologies, Claire Coombe, also had a mixed reaction to the show. “It was our first year exhibiting and although the number of visitors wasn’t as great as at other shows, the quality of the leads that we did get seemed to be high.

“Our Jencess software was very well received, being demonstrated to a variety of course owners, managers, pros and developers from eight different countries. The multi-language version of the software that has just been released has generated much interest, illustrated by four new installations taking place at some of France and Italy’s top facilities over the next month. A number of existing local clubs and new golf course developments also expressed serious interest which was particularly encouraging as this was our first foray into the Spanish and Portuguese golf market.”

Bob Smith from R D A Smith and chairman of the British Golf Industry Association (BGIA) said, “It was a good, ‘buzzy’ show and the number of mainland European customers was better than expected.” Like several other exhibitors he stressed the value of the networking opportunities that flow from having so many members of the golf business staying together almost as one community, with contacts between suppliers and customers reinforced by mixing socially outside the exhibition hall.

Reed Exhibitions report that Première Golf attracted representatives from many leading retail buying groups, including EuroPro, McGuirk’s Golf, Nevada Bob, Tartan International and Terry Matthews Golf Shops.

Many of them were also enthusiastic about the show. “The show was very good for us,” said Matthews. “Obviously, it was a shame the big five didn’t exhibit but we didn’t miss them. For the first time in years, we were able to write orders. We were delighted. We need a show and long may it be held in a place where the sun shines.”

In addition to the buyers from the United Kingdom there was support from all over Europe including key retailers from Portugal, Germany, France and Switzerland. Attendance from Spanish buyers was also well up on previous years with the El Corte Ingles stores particularly well represented.

This year’s Première Golf included a number of innovations, including a series of seminars conducted by renowned sports psychologist, Jos Vanstiphout, and noted golf instructor, Kendal McWade. Out of official show hours, many visitors relaxed at Golf Monthly’s “Party at the Port” and at several golf events run by the show organisers.

“In many respects, Première Golf 2002 was the best of the three shows to date,” said event director, Robert Fairbairn. “Everyone was worried about attendance but I am happy to report those concerns proved unfounded as the numbers rose slightly against 2001.

“That said, we do not want to be seen to be complacent. We have a great deal to accomplish. We are keen to develop the event further and want to broaden the existing VIP programme as well. We believe that with the continued support of the golf trade and with the backing of the authorities in Spain, we can consolidate Première Golf’s position as the Number 1 show in Europe. That is our goal and there is no reason why we can’t achieve it.”

Première Golf Telephone +44 (0)1491 572062


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