Greg Pearse is the new managing director of Galvin Green (UK & Ireland). He spoke to Glyn Pritchard about his decision to take the role and his plans for the premium apparel brand.
Pearse was formerly marketing director for TaylorMade in Europe and had been with the Adidas group for the past 14 years. He took over his new role from Mike Johnson-Hill, who has become the non-executive chairman of the UK company.
So what makes a 14 year career company man jump off the corporate ladder? “For me it was the right opportunity at the right time. I wasn’t actively looking to leave TaylorMade Adidas Golf but the opportunity was just too good! I have always wanted to run my own business and I have always admired Galvin Green as a brand. Here I have to manage not just marketing but all parts of the business including budgetary processes, product forecasting, cost centre management and so on. Being MD is a diverse role, requiring a wide range of skills, which is a big part of the attraction of the job. The move was for the right reasons.”
In terms of what he brings to the role Pearse says, “I’ve worked in marketing, sales and product management so I have a good cross section of experience. I think the four key areas are product quality, brand marketing, sales and service levels. You have to be at least an eight or nine out of ten in each of those categories to be a market leader and that is why Galvin Green is a premium brand.”
At the moment Pearse is still getting his feet under the desk. “I’m learning the business and Mike is helping me a lot. I’m meeting our retailers, getting feedback and building an understanding. I feel it’s important not to have any preconceived notions about the direction we should take and really listen to all our key stakeholders.”
However, from his discussions with Galvin Green’s senior management in Sweden, Pearse has a clear understanding of the brand strategy. “We’re a premium brand producing quality performance outerwear and we are the leader of that market category. That’s a position we have to defend by constantly innovating and evolving. But as the established market leader we cannot continue to expect double-digit growth from our home markets in Europe, so we must look for growth in the States and far-east. Our recent association with the Ryder Cup is part of that positioning.”
Where Pearse sees potential for continued growth in the UK and Ireland is in the other apparel sectors. “Our Multi Layer Concept is key to our development with high performance polos, tops and trousers. We also have to offer more to the women’s apparel market. Fashion styling is critical in women’s apparel. Areas like design, cut, fit and colour are all important. But it’s important we strike a balance between fashion and staying true to our performance positioning.”
When moving into new areas of apparel it’s important to maintain the premium brand image Pearse argues. “Polo shirts is a very competitive sector but our pre-book is 20 percent up this year. Our top of the range polo, the Macoy, is one of our best prebooked styles which shows that if you get the styling and performance right, the product becomes very compelling.”
Because of its recognised brand values, Pearse sees no need to launch a clothing range at a mid-range price point. “We are not trying to be all things to all people. We know who our customers are and we produce top quality products for core golfers that want the very best in performance that money can buy. That’s not necessarily most of the golf market, but that’s OK because it has proved to be good for us and good for our retail partners. We have raised the average selling price for outerwear across the board and we’re close to 50 percent market share at price points which were considered impossible in this market only ten years ago. As a retailer if you’re only going to sell X number of waterproof jackets a year, it’s better to sell them at £250 not £100. So we need to continue to innovate and keep the brand aspirational because golfers will pay for excellence, if it represents value for money.”
Pearse believes more golfers understand the need to wear performance apparel. “The market is changing. Ten to 15 years ago there were no technical fabrics. But sports brands moving into golf have helped change that. Most tour pros now wear technical fabrics which has shifted golfers perceptions of the right thing to wear on the course and Galvin Green is very much part of that shift.”
To get the message across Pearse believes more can be done to engage with the brand’s customer base. “I think building relationships with core golfers is critical, so we need to engage with our customers on more than a simple transactional level. That means increasing communication through social media and direct marketing.”
Retail partners also need to play a role in educating the consumer. “Store staff are key to getting the right messages across. They can educate the customer about the benefits of proper layering for comfort, so the customer is not just buying outerwear, but all the layers they need to wear for comfort and performance on the course.”
Pearse does not see a need to increase the retail base. “We want to work with the right partners who present our brand and our products in the right way. We supply on-course and off-course outlets but PGA pros are absolutely central to our success and we cannot be successful without their support. They wear as well as sell our products, and it’s their validation and their trust which is integral to our brand.”
Galvin Green does not sell direct to consumers, but does have relationships with the main golf retail groups. “We work with EuroSelect, Foremost and TGI and we want to work with them more closely to strengthen our partnership to drive mutual success.”
As well as educating the consumer on the benefits of Galvin Green, Pearse thinks the company can do more to help its retailers boost sales. “Our customers stock turn on Galvin Green products is generally very good and we know this has played a big part in our success. Too many retailers have too much money tied up in inventory that isn’t moving and we want to show that we are not one of those brands. Allocating more of their budget to us will improve their stock turn and profitability.”
Summing up Pearse says, “The consumer and our customers are absolutely integral to our success. My team knows this and we are going to obsess about it. We plan to continue delivering innovative products, strong marketing and world class service, because when you do this well, the sales number will take care of itself.”