Retail design and shop fitters Millerbrown Golf recently completed a £46,000 refurbishment of the golf shop at Ramsdale Park Golf Centre, a BGL venue near Nottingham. Paul Sanders, design director for Millerbrown Golf discussed the project with Glyn Pritchard.
Ramsdale Park is the second shop refurbishment project Millerbrown Golf has worked on for the Burhill Golf and Leisure group, following on from Redbourn Golf Club in 2014. “Scott McKittrick, group retail manager at BGL, approached us initially. I think he liked our approach and the fact that we aim to produce layouts that are flexible and easy to use”, Sanders confirms.
The shop at Ramsdale Park occupies about 105 square metres and was dominated by a very large, ‘L’ shaped, brick built counter. “It’s positioning took a lot of wall space out of use and its size was out of all proportion to requirements. Because it was brick built it was immovable and constrained the whole layout of the shop. It’s the sort of thing you would see in a municipal leisure centre not a pro shop.”
Sanders says Millerbrown frequently comes across this sort of challenge when refitting pro shops. “They have usually been designed by an architectural firm that was responsible for the building design and planning application. There’s nothing wrong with architects but they are generalists, doing a pro shop one day and perhaps a care home the next. They may do only one or two pro shops in their career with a few other retail projects. I have been designing golf shops for over 20 years so have seen many times what will work and what won’t.”
With the Ramsdale Park project McKittrick briefed Millerbrown on the refurbishment requirements. “It’s easy working with Scott because he has very definite ideas about what he wants and understands retail. The counter has been placed at the rear, because that draws people through the shop so they can see new merchandise. The desk is now a quarter of the previous size and it’s not a permanent fixture so it can be moved if needs change. This has also opened up a lot more wall space for merchandise displays. Scott also makes good use of visual imagery which can add considerable impact to a feature display”
One of the commonest problems Sanders encounters in pro shops is fixed display systems. “Scott McKittrick and BGL are very retail savvy, but unfortunately many on-course retailers are not. They are supplied with shop fittings that are years out of date and no longer used in high street retail environments. These are inflexible display systems, often supplied with fixed signage, which makes it very hard to alter displays. The signage we provided at Ramsdale Park is movable making it easy to change the look and layout of merchandise.”
Failure to change merchandise displays is a common problem for pro shops says Sanders. “You should be changing the displays regularly to freshen up the look and to focus on seasonal goods. Otherwise the shop turns into a wallpaper background that the regular members walk past and ignore. However, many shops have fixed display systems and are so overstocked that changing the displays becomes a major operation.”
Overstocking the shop is something that Sanders sees frequently. “Most golf shops aren’t particularly large and small increases in stock year-on-year is a common mistake. Most of the time you could reduce the stock on show by a quarter and you would sell more of the remaining 75 percent because people would have more space to view it. But over time it’s like ivy creeping up a tree and the head pro doesn’t notice that the place is filling up. There comes a point when there’s no room for new product because the old stock is literally choking the business.”
From experience Sanders thinks that, from a customer’s perspective, hardware and bags are the most noticeable products in on-course shops. “People will look at equipment but buy it infrequently. It also carries very low profit margins. Yet it can visually dominate a store with several free standing merchandise displays supplied by manufacturers competing for space. Scott McKittrick places more emphasis on the product lines like apparel that have higher turnover rates and make good margins. At Ramsdale Park we have placed the hardware in one section in our display units so it’s visible but doesn’t dominate.”
Manufacturers POS displays may cause difficulties Sanders admits. “Of course the golf retailer wants to be on good terms with suppliers but you do have to resist being taken over and filling up the shop. It is after all your shop not theirs. Most pro shops are relatively small in retail terms and you can’t let one supplier dominate with a display that may be disproportionately large and out of keeping with the shop layout.”
Sanders is delighted that the Ramsdale Park refurbishment has proved to be a success. “Basically it was a cluttered shop that needed a clean sweep. The layout now is a lot more flexible, with a shop that is visually interesting and well merchandised. As I understand it from Scott sales are up over 30 percent as a result. We are now actively working with BGL on a third project at Birchwood Park in Kent and in discussions on additional projects in 2016. It’s a pleasure to work with Scott and the BGL team because they are very professional in their approach.”