Steve Kettlewell (pictured), managing director of Bridgestone Golf UK, talks exclusively to GOLF RETAILING about the show launch of the Tour B-Series
How were 2013 sales for Bridgestone in the UK, and what were the product highlights?
Bridgestone Golf ball sales remained strong despite market and weather conditions, and we showed a healthy increase on those in 2012. In particular, sales of the improved version of the e6 ball were significantly up on the previous year – especially on-course, as it consolidated its position as our best-selling ball in the UK market.
What is the big news for Bridgestone at the 2014 PGA Show?
This is another great show for Bridgestone in Orlando, with the launch of the new premium Tour B-Series balls with exclusive Hydro Core Technology, and we have also had the ‘quarter-millionth’ live ball fitting conducted on the impressive Bridgestone Golf stand, which reflects the brand’s status as the clear number-two selling golf ball in the world’s biggest golf market, the United States.
What convinces you that the Tour B-Series will sell well in the UK this year?
As well as offering accomplished golfers greater distance off the tee and control around the greens, they will be promoted more aggressively than any other Bridgestone Golf ball in the weeks and months ahead, including prominent TV exposure and even a new radio advertising campaign led by David Feherty. For such a top-performing premium ball, they also have a very competitive RRP of £47.99, which should appeal to a growing number of serious golfers across the country.
When will the Tour B-Series be available at retail?
They will be available from February in the four familiar coloured boxes of Black (B330), Blue (B330-S), Red (B330-RX) and Silver (B330-RXS).
Why does Bridgestone recommend different B-Series models for different swing speeds?
Because the data collected from now more than 250,000 live ball fittings has shown that certain swing speeds require a different ball to compress it off the tee for the best results. Better players with a faster swing speed of over 105 mph – to match elite professionals – will benefit from using the B330 and B330-S balls, while the vast majority – around 77% of amateur golfers – will get more distance and closer dispersion from the other two models.
Will Bridgestone continue to offer ball fittings to UK golfers in 2014? If so, where and when?
Having just added another ball fitting technician to our team, we will take the number of Bridgestone Golf Ball Fitting Challenges across the UK and Ireland to record numbers this season. The venues and dates for the fittings will soon be posted on our website and promoted elsewhere to ensure a good turnout at each event, which always delivers impressive results.
Is Bridgestone launching other new products into the UK in 2014?
A new version of the increasingly-popular xFIXx distance ball is being launched in strikingly-attractive packaging.
How is Bridgestone supporting retailers in the UK this year?
In addition to mounting the biggest advertising campaign Bridgestone Golf has ever run in the UK, we are providing new POS counter stands, information cards and slat wall signs to support sales of the new B-Series balls, as well as a new promotional pack for those retail outlets taking part in the extended Ball Fitting Challenge, which should help them to generate more ball sales.
With regard to increasing golf participation in the UK, have any particular initiatives impressed you?
Anything that can encourage more people to play golf and do so on a regular basis has to be welcomed and would have the support of Bridgestone Golf, especially if it’s designed to generate more rounds being played early in the season.