JS International is a major distributor of golf equipment and accessories in the UK and Europe, but the company used to have a modest background as a high street golf retailer. Sales director, Bijal Patani, tells Glyn Pritchard about the transition and growth of the company and the reasons behind the success.
JS International is a family owned business and originally opened as a golf shop in 1994. That grew into a chain of four shops and along the way the company acquired the Longridge golf accessories brand. That was the beginning of the wholesale distribution business”, Bijal confirms.
By the late nineties the company had moved out of retail sales to focus entirely on wholesale distribution. “The reason for this change was because we love designing our own products and seeing the whole process of design, manufacture and distribution to finally seeing our products in the shops”.
Today, Bijal in in charge of sales. “As a management team we’ve got a shared vision of where we want to take the business. That vision allowed us to grow JS International right through the recession. We have been able to add to our brand portfolio and the strength of our reputation means we have secured some prestigious brands on an exclusive basis.
“We have eight agents representing us thoughout the UK. We are also strongly focused on the European market, with distributors in major territories including Denmark, Germany, France, Holland and Spain”. The company is also a member of the British Golf Industry Association.
Asked why the company has become so successful, Bijal states, “I think we are big enough to provide a comprehensive range of products, but we’re small enough to care and provide a personal service. Our sales team know our customers so it’s not an impersonal call centre operation.”
The company also has invested in a new ecommerce website making it simple for online ordering. The website provides a platform to view the product range and much more. “Customers can log-in and see stock availability with their own wholesale pricing and have access to marketing materials. It’s all about making it easy for our customers to do business with us and what suits them, rather than us.”
The company’s product portfolio includes bags, trolleys, travel covers, starter sets, junior clubs, accessories, practice aids, gifts and the clothing that has proved popular in both the UK and Europe. The range divides between JS International’s own brand, Longridge and exclusive UK and Ireland distribution rights for leading brands such as Clicgear, Bag Boy, and Voice Caddie. JS International also offers Golf Pride, Champ and Super Stroke.
Bijal adds, “We also have recently signed an exclusive European distribution rights for CaddieON the game tracking system which is a fantastic piece of technology, surpassing GPS technology, enabling all golfers to improve their game.”
JS International has grown the reputation of Clicgear since taking distribution of the brand and has propelled it to being recognised as one of the best known push trolleys in golf. They are keen to do the same job with their new brand BagBoy as Bijal explains. “Although very well established in the States and mainland Europe, BagBoy has been a peripheral brand in the UK golf market and we want to replicate that success that we have had with Clicgear and do the same with Bag Boy. The brand offers some of the highest quality and innovative bags and travel covers we have come across and they really deserve more golf shop floor space than what they are currently receiving. Once our customers see the products we know they will agree”.
The in-house Longridge brand is used for the company’s accessories and practice aid products, while the Colin Montgomerie range is mainly gifts. “We have a lot of success with golf related gifts because the Colin Montgomerie range is high quality and of course it’s a prestigious name.”
For their own product ranges JS International has two in-house designers with manufacturing outsourced in the far-east. “We design all aspects of the products to our specification. The products go through a development process and once accepted will be ordered with our manufacturing partners.”
The company has just concluded a ground breaking deal with the historic St Andrews Links Trust as a licensee for golf accessories. “It’s a terrific endorsement of our expertise and products. The Trust is very keen to protect the integrity of the St Andrews Links brand and wants to ensure that only an official licensee can use their name on products. We’re very proud to have been chosen as their licensee partner and we should be able to start making products available at the end of this year.”
Bijal concludes, “Although the golf market is getting tougher each year we are growing by offering the right products with good margins for retailers. We’re looking for steady expansion, growing our brands, making them stronger and taking care of our customers. That’s what we enjoy and do best.”