Adidas changes approach to apparel collections

Adidas is planning significant changes in its approach to selling golf apparel for 2016. Jason Howarth, category director for apparel at Adidas, explained the new three collections policy and the reasons behind it to Glyn Pritchard.

Discussing the planned changes Howarth says that Adidas began a reappraisal of its apparel distribution a year ago and examined research produced by both Golfdatatech and Sports Marketing Surveys Inc. “We looked at opportunities to improve. The European golf apparel market is worth £200 million a year and it’s the largest single golf category accounting for about a quarter of all sales.”

Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 15.15.11Following the review Adidas concluded that having just two collections a year is not enough to stimulate consumer demand. “Dropping spring-summer collections in February and autumn-winter in July leaves a five month gap. We believe this is not maximising the market potential both for our retailers and ourselves because it doesn’t create enough continuous consumer demand. For a typical pro shop that has around 200 members playing on a weekly basis, the range can potentially get pretty stale over that time.”

As a consequence Howarth says Adidas is moving to three collections a year. “We did not want to move to four seasonal collections, so now we will announce a spring collection in January; a summer collection in May; and an autumn-winter collection in September. This will keep our retail offering fresh throughout the year. Additionally we will have a core-line of colours that will coordinate with all collections available for twelve months, as well as a teamwear line for both men’s and ladies to complement our comprehensive collection.”

As well as stimulating more sales, Howarth sees additional benefits for Adidas retailers. “We expect retailers to benefit from faster stock turns with improved cash flow from more regular drops and faster sell through as we align our marketing support plans to each of the three drops. Over the next few years we are also planning to increase the level of technology, fabric and design of our apparel range and with this will come some increases in prices which will result in more margin for our retailers.”

The new policy should also reduce the volume of clearance stock. “We are changing our sales approach to selling in clear cut-off periods for maximum terms. If retailers book earlier enough they can take advantage of high level discounts, which will in turn help our accuracy with purchasing and thus lead to less close-out in the market.”

For spring 2016 there will be two colour ‘stories’ based on shock-blue, light yellow with white; and ‘equipment’ green with stone grey-black running for four months from January. At the beginning of May 2016 the summer collection will launch with a shock red, mineral blue and stone grey colour story, plus an equipment pink colour story to complement. Howarth confirms, “Across the January to August period of 2016 we will have four colour stories in two phased drops. That allows us to sell into tight deadlines and allows our retailers to buy and promote those colour stories and to buy the right volumes.”

The new policy will also apply to women’s apparel which will have its own colour stories. Adidas operates a global sizing policy so there is no difference in fit between UK and continental garments.

Howarth points out that the new policy has advantages for both southern and northern Europe. “In southern Europe January is a busy period because of the number of golfers from the north going south for winter breaks. But it helps in northern Europe as well, because for golfers that don’t just want a choice of January clearance items, it provides them with fresh, new styles that they can see Adidas staff players wearing on the Gulf swing of the European Tour.”

Early reactions to the new strategy have been encouraging says Howarth. “We’re getting good feedback from our retailers. We also have a limited number of new merchandising units which we are making available to selected retail accounts. Early indications are very positive with our pre-book up by 20 to 50 percent with some retailers.”

Retail trade feedback

Commenting on the new approach, Matt Barnby, golf operations manager at The Celtic Manor Resort said, “Really impressed with the S/S 16 Adidas range, strong colours and design. With the assistance of tour player scripting we see this as having a great sell through next year.”

Andy Edwards, director, Function 18 stated, “I really like the new three season strategy as it will keep our website fresh and interesting. It will also help us time selling out old product, as the new stock is landing.”