The eagle has landed

Lyle & Scott was established in Hawick, Scotland in 1874. The company is now unveiling a new Autumn-Winter 15 apparel collection that refocuses the brand on its golfing routes. Glyn Pritchard spoke exclusively to Tom Duncan, director of sports for Lyle & Scott.

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 15.43.31“We’ve completed a substantial recalibration of range strategy”, says Duncan. “We perhaps lost sight of our golfing roots in becoming a general leisurewear brand. But we recognise that apparel for golf has to be fit for purpose, so we have gone back to basics to develop a new and exciting initial range that includes all the clothing elements needed to play the game.”

The ‘recalibration’ included the creation of a specific sports division within the company headed by Duncan. “We now have separate fashion, sports and footwear divisions. That’s allowed us to focus on golf apparel as a discreet business with dedicated design, marketing and sales teams.”

Duncan says the company has also analysed the golf market and segmented it into four main customer types. “There is the avid golfer who plays in all weathers and wants performance clothing where fashion follows function. Then there is the fair-weather golfer that wants fashionable apparel that can be worn socially but performs on the course. We then have the older club member that wants crested knitwear in traditional, quality fabrics such as merino wool. And of course there is the women’s market which accounts for 17 percent of sales in the UK, and higher in overseas markets.”

To meet the needs for these differing sectors Duncan has split general branded golf apparel from custom-ordered crested embroidery, which will be sold into green-grass accounts by specialist agents. “Our agents have the contacts with the well-established members clubs so it makes sense for them to concentrate on the embroidery sales. We have a ‘never out of stock’ guarantee for our embroidery business.”

For trade sales of the AW15 range, Duncan is taking a new approach. “We currently have about 350 accounts in the UK, but I want to focus on around 100 accounts that really get what the Lyle & Scott brand is about and will commit to sales of £5,000 a season. We also want them to hold a fair representative stock across the range so the consumer understands that there is more to the Lyle & Scott brand than just polos and jumpers.”
Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 15.44.25Sales of the new apparel line will be managed by a dedicated in-house sales team. “They have new sales kits modelled on a 1920s samples suitcase. We will support our retail partners with showroom POS tools including conventional brochures but also digital and video material.”

Duncan admits that the brand ‘recalibration’ involves scaling back on commercial expectations. “At this stage we want to concentrate on the desirability of the brand, emphasising its golf credentials.” To help achieve this he says that Lyle & Scott designers have used input from the company’s tour-pro brand ambassadors Seve Benson and Morten Madsen. “What we learnt from them is invaluable including details such as deep raglan sleeves allow for greater movement when wearing our waterproof outwear.”

The new AW 15 collection now has the original golden eagle crest restored which was previously in green.  “It reinforces our link with the past and our commitment to excellence and quality. For us this is the start of a journey, meeting the needs of the golfer with the perfect balance of fashion, form and function.”