A Growing Brand

Andy Brown talked to Richard Palmer-Jones from PJH Brand Management, the UK Golf Master Agent for Under Armour, about the company’s incredible success and what new products they will be launching this year.

How many years have you been the main UK and European agent for Under Armour Inc?

In the UK we are a master agent and provide a front-end service to Under Armour, so we have a sales team and also plan all of the products into the market place and write the marketing plans. Under Armour are the back end, the purchasing, the invoicing and logistics. In the European business we are actually the distributor so we purchase the product for Under Armour and sell and invoice it. That began in 2015 so we are just a year into it and in the UK we have been doing it for eight and a half years, myself and my business partner Neil Heslop.

Is Autumn/Winter an important market for you?

For the last four years we have been the number one winter apparel brand so people do look to us for winter and we have quite a few key new technologies. The one we are most excited about is in the rainwear category and we have two in that area; one in the premium end where we have a partnership with Gore. We are bringing to the market the first ever full stretch pack light rain suit. People have used pack light with bits of stretch in it, but no one has ever taken the whole garment and made it for everything, trouser and top stretch. In our mid-price we have our Storm 3, which is our own technology rainwear which will RRP for around £195.

We invented base layers as a category, the golfer has turned to us in winter to give them that ‘extra skin’ that kept them warm; that continues to be a big part of our business. We have 60 per cent of that market place. That was how we started, but from that we built up a whole cold gear collection and our number two product is our cold gear trousers which gives you a normal looking trouser you could go to work in that but is wind resistant, thermal, stretchable and breathable.

How is the brand performing?

Globally Under Armour is 19 years old as a brand and we’ve had 22 consecutive quarters with growth; we’ve never had a recession. We are approaching $4 billion as a company this year and within that golf is the fastest growing sports category, which is great. This will be our second year running that we have grown over 30 per cent in golf in the UK. To be such a large part of the market and for the customers to reward us with more business is fantastic and not something that we take for granted. It’s a real ‘pinch me’ moment for the brand as every part of the business is exploding, not just one section or one part of the world. We think we have the next great sports brand.

Will you be entering into new categories?

Until Spring 16 the only category we exist in is men’s golf apparel and golf wear and in the last 12 months we are number two market share brand in value. We are going into the women and kids market and while these categories might not be as big as the men’s market, there are still women and children who want to wear Under Armour and from the end of February 2016 they will have that opportunity. That gives us an expansion and we will also be launching golf footwear.

What message would you like to give to the golf pros?

The golf pro is huge for us, the first orders that we ever took were from the golf pros. They are the lion’s share of our business and we introduced a very different business model in the sense that we didn’t give discounts for the more someone bought, we gave a fair price and people could buy whatever they wanted. We created a level playing field for the big and small guys to carry our products and our promise was simply to create better products year on year.

It is incredibly exciting to be involved in this brand at this time, but we don’t take it for granted. Next year we plan to grow 45 per cent in the golf market and we believe that we can do that. We thank the people that read your magazine as, without them, we haven’t got a business and we want to be a big part of their business and help them be a success.