GBN talks to Peter Youell, managing director of Skechers UK & Ireland, about how the company has grown into the third biggest golf shoe brand from its launch into the golf market in 2014; the benefits being part of a global leisure and sports footwear business; and how its performance-enhancing technology is benefitting golfers and golf retailers alike
How has Skechers UK coped during the pandemic and all the problems that is has created?
Skechers has always been quick to market and able to pivot, but our ability to navigate the last 18 months is a testament to the hard work and flexibility of our entire team. When most retail stores around the world closed last spring, we doubled down on e-commerce and consumers responded which illustrates how much they wanted the comfort and style of Skechers even when working at home.
A great example of how we remain agile and focused on meeting demand here for the UK & Ireland is that we’re building and opening our first ever UK Distribution Centre. We considered the implications of Brexit and set ourselves up to be able to service trade and customers better and more efficiently from a logistics centre based here.
How has golf performed compared to other parts of the Skechers business?
Our golf business continues to grow, and we entered 2021 with a record pre-book, which is a testament to our top-notch products, positioning and trade support.
When the first lockdown ended last year and golf courses re-opened, we experienced huge demand to re-stock, and the great weather meant that this continued all summer long. More rounds being played and an influx of new golfers to the sport combined to make a great market for selling Skechers Golf shoes.
We’re seeing tremendous growth with Green Grass, Buying Groups, as well as online specialists, and it’s a trend that seems to be getting stronger all the time. In our overall business, where we are open, we are performing well, and we’re expecting growth across our distribution channels in 2021.
What key benefits do Skechers GO GOLF have in being part of a bigger business?
Skechers GO GOLF is part of the Skechers Performance Division, which designs innovative shoes for running, walking, training and golf. We develop new technology, materials and features, and golf therefore really benefits as a part of this design and development group. We never stop looking, thinking and creating new ideas to innovate and stretch the opportunity.
Skechers is recognised as one of the market leaders in golf shoes, what do you attribute this success to?
Skechers is the third largest footwear brand in the world. Given this, it has great infrastructure from a design, marketing, distribution and customer service standpoint. The Skechers brand carries reach, depth, power and connection. While we build strong brand awareness through marketing campaigns with our elite golfers, we work closely with them to deliver what they need to stay comfortable and perform on the course. This allows us to focus on what consumers desire most—amazing product that delivers on comfort and value on the course as much as it does off the course.
Are there any new technologies in the 2021 collection?
Alongside our usual technologies of Ultra Flight, Ultra GO and Skech-Air midsole properties, we have great new outsoles including Skechers Grip Flex which is featured on a new shoe – Elite 4 Victory. Additionally, comfort is maximised with Resamax, Gogamax and Air-Cooled Memory Foam.
The newest feature we’re introducing to our golf collection is Arch Fit. We first launched Arch Fit in a range of casual styles, and the feature resonated strongly with consumers, so now Arch Fit is the latest comfort innovation that we’ve brought from our lifestyle collections to our Skechers GO GOLF footwear. This new technology will provide enhanced podiatrist-certified arch support for long-lasting comfort on the course.
The innovative and patented Arch Fit insole system was developed with over 20 years of data and 120,000 unweighted foot scans. It gives the consumer the ultimate in arch support, comfort and stability. We’ve had incredible sell through, consumer and customer reaction and we feel this can make a huge step forward in golf as well.
What are the standout highlights from the range this year?
In the Pro collection, we launch Pro 4 Legacy Spike featuring our latest lightweight Ultra Flight cushioning and high-performance Resamax cushioned insole for added all day comfort. Torque Pro Spike brings great design waterproofing on a great outsole at an amazing price.
The Elite programme has established Skechers as a powerhouse in golf – and in 2021 we enhance and add to the collection. Elite Tour SL, a superb shoe that offers a durable grip spikeless outsole. Elite 4 – our market share driver, sees a super new colour in white, navy, red combination. Elite 4 Victory – is simply stunning. A fresh new upper design gives it a whole new look and has had incredible reaction.
The Max Spikeless series takes on new ‘modern Summer’ designs that offer a different lightweight styling. Max Bolt is a sleeker, faster design and Max Sport takes inspiration from one of our best-selling Sport styles.
Our women’s collection showcases a number of key styles for 2021. The Skechers GO GOLF PRO 2 Spike continues to be a key performer with its lightweight Ultra Flight cushioning and classic design, it’s set to be a huge hit again this year.
We have also added in more athletic casual golf styles to the collection with Max Swing and Sport offering the newer upper designs in standout colours! Our award-winning and best-selling GOwalk line continues in Golf and we add some summer sun to the whole line with a unique Tropical print package on the Max Spikeless and also on a super cool new design Skech Air style.
Showing shoes in store well is a key to selling success, how has Skechers addressed this key area?
We really value and take pride in how our brand is presented at retail. We’ve worked hard to develop a truly impactful, flexible and easy-to-install solution for pros. The Skechers wall display creates a focal wall or area that presents the collection, brand and features in an easy to shop environment.
What should a retailer consider when deciding to stock Skechers?
Skechers is a globally recognised brand that focuses on all segments of its business to drive growth together with its wholesale partners. If we develop a display or presentation in a store, we will not walk away from it, but work to maintain it with our partner for long-term success. We want to work together to create demand and build loyalty and interest for first-time buyers as well as returning Skechers fans. Skechers shoes have one of the most impressive returns on investment of any product in the pro shop. The margin is incredibly competitive at any price point.