Brand Building

    Under Armour has opened its first standalone golf brand store in the UK with the launch of the new pro shop at Old Thorns Golf Club near the Surrey Hampshire border. We spoke to Director of Golf Ben Neave to find out more.


    How did you have the idea for the store?

    During lockdown we had a chat as a company about spaces that weren’t being utilized properly at Old Thorns. And this spot by the practice ground came up as an area. With golf booming throughout the pandemic golf product retail has really picked up here. We contacted Richard Palmer-Jones at Under Armour and we went from there.
    Under Armour built and designed the shop for us. They’ve invested heavily in the shop fit. They’ve done an amazing job that looks very modern and displays the apparel perfectly. It’s so well lit with plenty of room to see everything clearly. I really can’t fault how it looks.

    What made you move in that direction rather than a traditional shop fit and stocking everyone’s product?

    Under Armour as a brand suits Old Thorns perfectly. We have a lot of transient golfers coming through. Of the 180 a day that will play on a summers day, 140 of those are new to the course. Under Armour as a brand appeals to most golfers, and is perfect for crested wear as people want souvenirs from their golf days. And it’s all at a price point that nobody questions which is key.
    But alongside that we have an incredible 20,000 square foot gym, which has a really strong membership of it’s own. Under Armour is the perfect brand for the gym as well. At the gym we’ve created a visualization area for the products, which they can come over to the golf shop to buy, and they are clearly steered in our direction. We’re opening the shop from 6am to 8pm to accommodate the gym goers, but it’ll also grab customers from the sports bar, after they completed their rounds and are waiting for the rest of their golf day to come in.

    Is everything crested?

    No. We’re working on a 50/50 split at the moment. Something like the Daytona top sells extremely well for us, with people buying a mix of crested and uncrested product. We have members, and resort guests who love the logo product, but we have a big portion who just want Under Armour product.

    When will you know if the Under Armour store is a success?

    I’m very analytical, I continually monitor our sales. And we sold £2,500 of stock last week. I’ve already placed a top up order. The feedback so far has been very positive. We’re sure golfers in the local area will travel to us for their clothing needs. And then the golfers journey for us as a hotel is a lot better. You walk into the golf shop, through and up to the sports bar. We can definitely financially benefit from the sales and the growth, but it’s just as important to improve the customers experience of the resort so they want to return.
    The only other brand we stock in-store is Titleist. Our ball sales are fantastic and it made sense to work with them. It’s a happy coincidence that Jordan Spieth is an ambassador for both brands. We offer custom fitting

    How do you see the split between golf and leisure sales?

    We’re expecting a 70/30 split. That 70 percent of golf sales would have been close to 100% previously, so that’s arguably 30% new business that we haven’t had before and that’s exciting. We had a couple in at the weekend who spent £100 on gym wear, and they were here for a wedding show. It’s new business which is fantastic.
    This is a totally new proposition for us when it comes to buying stock. We were previously spending around £12,000 a year with Under Armour. We’re anticipating to be spending between £80,000 to £100,000 this year. We’ve changed the way we buy as we’ve improved the way we report and track our sales. We can fully track the size, the colour, the style code. We know exactly what is selling, which in helps us anticipate what to buy in. 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.