There’s plenty for the team at PowaKaddy to be excited about in 2017 with a host of upgrades and two brand new models. Andy Brown went to visit the team at their headquarters to find out more and get a first look at their new models.
Most companies – in all industries, not just golf – unveil new products every year in order to keep their cash flow strong and customers buying their products. Often these new products are upgrades on existing models and, while some of them do genuinely contain exciting new features, often they can be merely cosmetic changes. Think of the last few iPhones that Apple have introduced – most of them have been variations on an already well established theme. True change is rare which is why it’s exciting to report that PowaKaddy are bringing two completely new products to market in 2017.
The two products are a trolley with an integrated GPS system – the first ever such one in the UK – and a new compact model. These new models are launched with the brand on a high, with 2016 being one of their best years of trading. “We’ve had a cracking year – we are about 15 per cent up on our sales value so we are very positive,” comments PowaKaddy CEO David Catford.
One of the key areas related to this growth is in their lithium trolleys and Catford confirms that there will be no price increase for these products, despite the difficult time the pound is currently having due to Brexit. Last year the company also introduced a five-year warranty on lithium batteries at the end of the last year which has been well received by the trade. “The five year warranty is a massive step forward for the industry and the trade love it as it is another selling point for the pro. The battery is so reliable which is why we are confident to offer this. If it is properly set up and maintained then it lasts for such a long time. Initiatives like these only work though if the consumer thinks that they are good value for money and with lithium the consumer clearly does; they like the longevity and the lightness and our system where they just plug it in and it is easy.”
Their lithium trolleys and rental fleet have been among the star players for the brand in 2016, but what about the new products? The Compact C2 (which stands for compact two fold) is focused on the compact area of the market, a sector which equates to roughly a third of the world market when it comes to electric trolley sales. Catford remises that the brand did enter the compact trolley market many years ago without a great deal of success, which is why they have spent so long ensuring that everything is as good as it can be with the C2. “We have taken our time and really worked hard at it and worked to ensure that it really is simple to fold. It’s easy to make a trolley fold but harder to make it small and open and shut simply, that has been the big challenge,” said Catford.
“It has taken us two years to get the product to where we want it to be and the key thing for us is to keep innovating; if you don’t improve your products then you get left behind in any industry. It is just over half the height of the current Freeway folded and the width is the same. It is also very light, it is the lightest in its class. This will retail at around £550 and pre orders are very positive, up to 30 per cent of our orders so far are for it.”
To conduct the interview I went and met David at the company’s offices in Sittingbourne and was one of the first people outside the business to view the product and try it out – the two folding mechanism is very easy to use. The other new product that is being launched is a trolley with integrated GPS; a very different model to the compact but one that is generating just as much excitement for the company and in the trade. The new model does everything that the brand’s top of the range FW7s does, but comes with the GPS as part of the product.
“The interest is phenomenal. It will be the UK’s first trolley with a fully integrated GPS on it, if not in the world. It will be interesting to see how it performs with the public when they get hold of it – a lot of people do like simplicity and this product means they don’t need a separate watch or device, it is all on the trolley and as the GPS is attached it has a built in power supply,” says Catford. “The interest has been very strong and we are making sure it works in every corner of the world. This will be launched in the coming months and will retail for around £699.”
The trolley comes pre-loaded with over 30,000 golf courses worldwide and no annual fees or subscriptions will be required. The price is undoubtedly high end – as you would expect given the technology involved – but not overly so. Catford reveals that the brand wouldn’t have been able to do something like this a few years ago as the cost of GPS was so high, but when they reduced in price it became a more attractive idea for them as a business and, by extension, to retailers and the end consumers. “We definitely noticed a softening of the prices for GPS models – items that were £200 are now down near £100 so it definitely made a difference to us doing the new trolley,” confirms Catford.
“It is £120 more than our top of the range trolley so that tells you that the cost is not huge. The other thing is that we are not working with a brand – we have gone to our own manufacturer who are experts and really know about the technology. The challenge has been to get it to integrate to our own electronics, for them to talk to each other in the same language and that is something our team have been working tirelessly on.” The innovations certainly do keep rolling out of the factory doors at PowaKaddy.