Golf Retailing editor Dan Owen caught up with adidas Golf Managing Director Andrew Law to explore how the brand is planning to grow their business in 2019.

    How was 2018 for adidas Golf?

    It was an exciting year, but it had its challenges. We moved offices, people, systems, everything was new and that was incredibly challenging and exciting. Unfortunately, we had a system blackout when we changed over which caused issues for some customers. With system data migration there are always anomalies, unfortunately. In 25 years with adidas that was the third one I’ve been involved with and there’s always problems but we’re over that.

    But as of July last year operationally we’ve been performing at what I would term industry acceptable. 2018 was the year we built our platform and structure. 2019 is where we really start to show adidas Golf at it’s strongest. All the hard work’s been done, now we can start getting creative and exciting.

    Xander Schauffele winning the Tournament of Champions was a great start to the year for
    adidas Golf.

    What a brilliant performance, we’re very excited for him. Our sports marketing strategy is that we invest in young players that reflect the brand. These guys are more accessible because of where they are in their career. Xander has been a revelation, and his parents are French and German so he has an affinity with all things European. We’re hopeful that we see him playing over here at some point this year. We recently signed Jordan Smith. Here’s an exciting English talent, he’s going to be a great athlete for our brand, especially with Tyrell Hatton playing more golf in the states.

    You said last year you were essentially a startup. How does that change how adidas Golf is perceived to the trade?

    Being a sports brand in golf we get asked, are we going to do what other sportswear brands have done and virtually pull out of golf retail? But we are fully committed to the authentic golf retail channel; and big adidas are backing us because that’s where golf apparel and footwear is purchased. It’s green grass, it’s off-course, and some sports retailers too. But if you want to be successful in the golf industry you need to invest, you have to service, and you have to look after authentic golf retail.

    This show’s we’re not downsizing, we’re actually investing in new people. We’ve just brought on two full-time visual merchandisers and they will be going around our retailers to merchandise the brand instore, to train and to engage with staff. That’s an added value service beyond what their sales rep will offer and I don’t believe any other brands are doing that, at least not full time.

    For the first time ever in adidas Golf history we are using the same marketing strategy as the rest of adidas. adidas are spending millions globally with athletes from Gareth Bale to David Beckham; all using the infamous #heretocreate hash tag. We are now using that in golf. The impact of that message in creating consumer awareness and demand can hopefully lead to increased sell-through of the product throughout 2019. Under TMAG we were a separate subsidiary and up until last year our marketing strapline was ‘Geared For More.’ That doesn’t make sense when adidas through sport in football, running and training are all cohesively using #heretocreate.

    This year we are going to work with Parley which I think will be interesting with its eco-friendly message. By 2024 all adidas footwear will be made from recycled plastics. We’re harnessing the great work that big adidas are doing and bringing it to golf. It creates consumer awareness and demand which should mean with a better product than ever we can create even better sell-through which is what retailers are looking for.

    What are you doing to improve your service to your retailers?

    We want to be known as a company that’s easy to do business with. We’ve simplified our trade terms. A lot of companies will say you’ve got to do X, Y, and Z to get our base terms. With us so long as you buy into the brand you get our best terms. We’ve picked you and you’ve picked us and in return for that we’ve given our best terms regardless of who you are.

    We launched a new online B2B platform last year called Click. It’s been incredibly successful already and we only launched in September. It allows the retailer to see live product availability so they can reorder stock throughout the season and give them the ability to not only purchase directly on that platform, but they can flick a switch on it that shows retail prices, allowing them to show their customer’s current availability.

    You introduced the stadium POS last year, presumably that carries over and gets rolled out across more stores?

    Our commitment to adidas stockists is to ensure we help them merchandise the brand to its best. We’ve surveyed our retail partners to establish who understands the brand identity and who’s doesn’t. We’ve invested to ensure it’s available to every retailer who wants it, whilst also recognising that there are many retailers who don’t use any branded POS. Where it’s possible we have the ability to make sure our brand looks the best to reflect how adidas looks everywhere, which we know helps sell through.

    What would you say are the key products this year?

    Our prebooks on apparel was over 30 percent up on SS19. We’re very grateful that the trade has recognised that our product line has improved. We believe the Ultimate franchise is resonating with our consumers and retailers. The four-way stretch helps the golfer in their game because it gives them flexibility. The SPF 50 story around our Ultimate apparel product has landed too, as people become more conscious of the effects of being outdoors for five hours playing golf. We’re also actually seeing more sales of long sleeve polo shirts. The traditional golfers tan which used to be looked on as a badge of honour is fast becoming a thing of the past.

    Later in the year, we’re ramping up our Frostguard story and we’re now prebooking our autumn winter range. It’s the best product range in all my time at adidas. Frostguard is about ensuring that the golfer stays warm in cooler climates. British and Irish golfers play 12 months a year, I know I do.

    We’ve had huge prebook growth on footwear. The most exciting story is the TOUR360 XT SL, our full soled boost spikeless shoe. Other brands have been very successful with that type of silhouette. But it’s distinctly adidas, looks like a TOUR360, and it’s got full-length boost offering ultimate comfort and fantastic energy return. Boost has been a huge part of big adidas’ success in recent years, and we’re really trying to leverage that with the new model. There’s a handful of our top athletes on tour who have switched straight away. Tyrell Hatton is really keen on them, and Dustin loved them so much, he wore the first samples back in August because they were so comfortable.

    We’ve really been pushing adicross and our prebooks on that range are 400 percent up on last year. I don’t see any other brand doing this, a real range of off-course wear that can be worn on course too. This is stuff that can be worn in the gym, can be worn on the street, and on the course.  Stockists have recognised the potential of the category. We can never forget the age of the average golfer in this country, we need product for him and her, but as a sports brand have a commitment to a younger demographic also. GR

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    As an avid golfer since the age of eleven Dan lives and breathes all things golf.  With a current handicap of eleven he gets out and plays as often as his work life (and girlfriend) allows. Dan confesses to still being like a kid at Christmas when it comes to seeing the latest golf equipment. Having served as GolfPunk’s Deputy Editor, and resident golf geek for the past 13 years and working for golf's oldest brand, John Letters Dan brings to GOLF RETAILING an excellent understanding of the sector.