Millerbrown ensure Foxhill’s pro shop catches the eye

When Foxhills Club & Resort in Surrey realised they weren’t maximising sales they turned to Millerbrown to focus initially on the all-important counter area.

Set in 400 acres of beautiful Surrey countryside, it’s easy to forget at Foxhills that one is only 20 minutes from Heathrow airport. Voted by Golf World in 2015 as one of England’s top 100 courses, the quality of both the golf and also the health spa have attracted a loyal following.

In the summer of 2014 recently appointed golf operations manager, Chris Reeve, who prior to joining Foxhills had worked for the Burhill Golf group, contacted Millerbrown for their recommendations as to how best improve the retail operation. “We had a great looking shop, which had been fitted out at the same time as our health spa, but from past experience I could see that the shop wasn’t achieving the level of sales that I knew it could – and should – be,” said Reeve.

There were three main issues that needed to be addressed, the first being that the counter area needed a serious re-think. It regularly looked cluttered because there was insufficient room close by to display accessories, meaning that everything got put on the counter. Not only did this mean that the counter looked untidy, but the shop actually sold less, because nothing really stood out.

Another problem was that a lack of merchandising flexibility around the shop made it hard for the employees to create visually strong, themed displays. These are an important factor in increasing impulse purchases, something that the shop wasn’t benefitting from as much as it should have been. The final issue was an insufficient separation of the main product groups with displays of hardware, bags, clothing and accessories overlapping. This blurring was confusing the customers and meant sales were lower than they should have been.

“As the counter and adjacent accessory displays were the main priority, we asked Millerbrown to focus on a redesign of these areas first,” remembers Reeve. “It was an instant success. Our customers loved it, as did our staff, and straightaway we started selling more accessories and serving our customers better.”

Following the successful redesign of the counter area in late 2014 Reeve asked Milllerbrown to return and redesign the layout to define product areas more clearly and increase visual impact on each customer’s typical store ‘walk-through’.

“By early 2015 our new shop had been finished, and as soon as we re-opened it was obvious that we had done the right thing. Not only did sales increase significantly, but customers went out of their way to comment on what an improvement it was,” says Reeve. “Another benefit that quickly became apparent was that, from a staffing perspective, the shop was easier to manage and, more importantly, our staff no longer needed to be experts at merchandising to be able to create interesting and attractive displays.”

Reeve believes that it is vital that green grass operations don’t just view their golfers as a ‘captive market’ and think that, as long as a pro shop has stock, sales will naturally follow. He points out that the main reason for any golfers’ visit is rarely to go shopping; they’ve mostly come to play golf, so it’s logical that golf shops need to look visually appealing to divert golfers’ attentions to sell anything more than just distress and demand items.

For golf shops to be successful not only must they ensure they are visually appealing but understand what items have the best margins. “It’s mostly the impulse items that carry the better margins,” says Reeve. “Here at Foxhills we will always pay special attention to how well our store is laid out to help us maximise those crucial impulse sales.”

Paul Sanders, design director at Millerbrown, said, “We’re delighted at the outcome at Foxhills, but it’s a situation we come across regularly. When shops struggle to improve turnover, it’s usually because the quality of merchandising and general display standards are insufficient to make customers act on impulse. It’s no longer enough for shops to look nicely fitted out – today’s shoppers expect products to be displayed in a visually arresting way. This is where flexibility plays a key part – it must be easy for retailers to change all displays on a regular basis, to keep all product offers looking coordinated and refreshed.”

Competitive pricing will often successfully drive sales of KVIs – known value items – but all shops need the increased turnover and profit margins that come from a high percentage of impulse sales, and clarity of offer and visual impact are essential factors. Foxhills Club & Resort is addressing these issues and their bottom line is benefiting.