Since its acquisition in 2009, ProQuip has enjoyed a renaissance with a significant growth in sales and a widening product range. Russell Brooks, general manager of the Scottish waterproofs brand told Glyn Pritchard why the company is succeeding in a tough market.
ProQuip has supplied waterproofs to Ryder Cup Teams for 31 years, since first outfitting Jack Nicklaus’ US Team in 1983. More recently the company has supplied only the European side, but at the very soggy 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor, ProQuip came to the rescue of the American team when their own supplier’s suits failed to keep out the Welsh weather.
On the Friday of the event US captain Corey Pavin told the media, “We were disappointed with the performance of them, and you know, we just fixed it. They were not doing what we wanted them to do. So we went out and bought some more waterproofs.” And the waterproofs they purchased for a reputed £4,000 were ProQuip.
The Ryder Cup endorsement came only a year after the brand was acquired by its current corporate owners. Since then ProQuip has enjoyed steady growth, as Brooks confirms. “We have been running at about 20 percent up year-on-year for the last four years.”
Brooks believes quality and intelligent pricing have been key to success. “Our waterproofs are quiet, lightweight, breathable and playable. We have developed our own hydrophilic membrane lamination technology, so we don’t pay to license other manufacturers’ fabrics. This allows us to keep pricing at realistic levels while also giving a three year guarantee on all our waterproofs.” In fact Brooks thinks ProQuip’s waterproof fabrics are better for golf than other leading waterproof fabrics. “Our fabric is designed to be quiet, essential for golf, as well as waterproof and breathable.”
Breathability is the critical factor affecting price says Brooks. “Basically the more breathable a suit is the more expensive it gets. We have a £100 suit that is great value and completely waterproof with a three year guarantee. But we also have suits at £150, £200 and our top of the range suit at £329.”
The company has just added to the range with its new Tour-Lite jacket (see panel). “It’s the lightest jacket we have ever made, even lighter than our Ultralite suit. The fabric used for the Tour-Lite jacket is so light it’s not suitable for trousers, so we suggest customers match the jacket with trousers from the rest of our range. The pre-book has been excellent so we are increasing the production run.”
Brooks says that stock holding is an important part of the company’s appeal to retailers. “We hold stock of all our main product lines. We also offer an extensive range of sizes from small to XXXL and from 27 to 35 leg length.”
In addition to waterproofs ProQuip has a range of windproofs with a new quilted Therma-Tour jacket and gilet being introduced later this year. The company has also branched out into polo shirts and knitwear. “We sold 20,000 shirts last year and we offer a choice of cotton or performance fabrics. For our knitwear we only use high quality British lambswool or Italian merino wool and it is has a water repellent finish.”
Green grass outlets are the main route to market for ProQuip says Brooks. “We have a mix of our own sales representatives and agents covering the country and the traditional on course pro shop is our main focus. We welcome new accounts and will offer every support.”
ProQuip has joined Foremost’s EMP (Elite Marketing Programme) group of suppliers and the company is now supplying an exclusive range of weatherwear to Foremost members. The product range, called ProQuip Pro-Flex, includes a waterproof suit, soft-shell wind top, lined water repellent sweater, waterproof bucket hat, merino wool beanie, mittens and a premium quality umbrella. The range styling is directly inspired by the design of The 2014 European Ryder Cup Team rain suits designed to deliver the highest margin returns to Foremost members.
Coming back to the Ryder Cup, six American and 13 European teams have used ProQuip waterproofs, leading Brooks to conclude, “We are incredibly proud of ProQuip’s Ryder Cup heritage and the experience of outfitting the world’s best golfers for one of the biggest spectacles in world sport. Our ethos is to offer cutting edge technology, but at a realistic price.”
A light touch with ProQuip Tour-Lite
ProQuip’s Tour-Lite is the first to be developed using a knitted waterproof outer fabric. Engineered to be the lightest packable rain jacket for golf, Tour-Lite weighs 277 grams and can be packed down to an area 15 by 12cms. The jacket is constructed from a knitted ultra-lightweight outer fabric that is soft to wear and stretches four ways delivering the highest levels of comfort and freedom of movement.
Innovative features include a handy rear pocket located above the golfer’s lower back for storing a glove, scorecard or accessories. An elasticated waistband and grip strip hem mean the jacket fits snugly at the waist and stays in place for a comfortable athletic fit. The jacket comes with a colour contrast waterproof zip and zip pockets plus adjustable Velcro cuffs. Tour-Lite is available in two colour ways, black/true blue or true blue/black with ProQuip’s three year guarantee at an RRP of £129.
Russell Brooks, says, “ProQuip has a history of ground-breaking innovation in golf weatherwear and Tour-Lite is our latest breakthrough. Golfers now demand thinner, softer and lighter clothing with great styling and complete protection against the elements. We believe that Tour-Lite is the perfect all-year round outer layer for golf and will win over the many golfers who are still reluctant to pull on a waterproof jacket when it rains.”
For more information on the ProQuip range visit: www.proquipgolf.com