Sister brands Glenmuir and Sunderland have proven that their Scottish apparel heritage translates overseas. We spoke to Mikhel Ruia, Managing Director Glenmuir and Sunderland of Scotland to find out about their continued international growth.
Glenmuir and Sunderland of Scotland are two of golf’s most famous brands, can you give us some background on them?
The Glenmuir brand has been at the heart of the game of golf ever since its beginnings in 1891 when local businessman Andrew MacDougall established a knitwear factory in Lanark, Scotland which remains our headquarters to this day. Mr. MacDougall was the inventor of a new power-driven machine that greatly simplified the design and manufacture of fancy golf hose. Since these beginnings, Glenmuir remains a family-run business committed to creating golfwear with impeccable care, skill and dedication to the craft.
And the Sunderland of Scotland brand?
Tony Sunderland was the founder of the brand who started tailoring and manufacturing in Glasgow in 1911. The brand brought to market the first ultra-lightweight golf rain suits made from Italian acrylic coated nylon. It has been selected over the years for Ryder Cup, Curtis Cup and Solheim Cup teams as well as counting the greats of the games as ambassadors including Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo and Greg Norman. Sunderland of Scotland epitomises quality and playability, ensuring customers of lasting wear and reliability to ensure the wearer is NEVER WEATHER BEATEN.
What is it that makes them so successful still?
The brands are both unique due to 1) Their Scottish DNA, born and still based in Scotland recognised on a global scale as the Home of Golf; 2) Commitment to crafting the finest golf wear and highest performing outerwear with lifetime waterproof warranty; 3) Both brands carry a comprehensive stock service combined with world class embroidery all done by our craftsmen and women at our Lanark HQ ensuring total quality control and first class service. These points ensure customers maintain light stock levels whilst maximising their margin on our products with the option of quick in season top ups. And although both of our brands have a rich heritage which inspires our passion, we continue to develop, innovate and embrace contemporary golf apparel technology trends.
In recent years you’ve really grown your export business. What has driven that success?
With a history rich in prestige the brands are retailed in luxury golf resorts globally in over thirty countries including Switzerland, France, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Australia, South Africa, Russia and South Korea. Our product provenance, quality and importantly durability have been the key drivers to meet the high tastes of female and male golfers worldwide.
Is the Scottish heritage key to selling your brands abroad?
There is a great demand and cachet associated with Scottish quality and British designed product in the export markets and we are honoured to export to the four corners of the world all from our Lanark HQ. In addition to the product quality and power of our brands, the strength of our knowledge and expertise on customs and duty paperwork, sturdiness of boxes and packing methods and speed of delivery have all led to growth in the export markets. After all we have got nearly 130 years of experience which will be even more relevant and valuable as we navigate the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.
Are different products popular in different countries? And do you adapt your lines for different markets?
Products with our signature Glenmuir Tartan have proved successful as well as our luxury double mercerised cotton polo shirts in Asia whilst our Whisperdry Luxelight collection from Sunderland has been popular in Southern Europe and Australia. Lambswool and our padded down products are popular in Scotland and Scandinavia. Different climates demand different fabric technologies. We must also take into account timing of seasons to ensure the right stock is in the right place at the right time for example the Australia and Spain golf summer seasons take place during the UK winter seasons.
How do you intend to keep growing your international business?
As a family-business our culture throughout our organisation is based upon trust, honesty and integrity. We truly believe if we continue to innovate and develop our products whilst providing a world class customer experience combined with our stock and embroidery service customers will continue to put their trust and rely on us to deliver them high quality products which they can make strong margins on. We are only just getting started on the improvements we have implemented over the past two years; we have a lot more to do and we are looking forward to continue to grow the brands and serve our customers in the UK, Europe and beyond. GR