Golf Retailing Editor Dan Owen met with PowaKaddy MD David Catford at their Kent HQ to find out about the brands 2018 success and plans for 2019.
How was last year for PowaKaddy?
We’ve had a great year. In a declining market, we’ve grown our business, increasing our market share from 55% to 60%. Despite a terrible start to the year, and a summer that was arguably too hot as well, plus the World Cup, we’ve managed to get through that and had a fantastic year that we can be very proud of.
Has the American Golf situation been a big issue for PowaKaddy?
It’s caused problems but they’ve got a turnaround specialist in to run the company now and he has a proven track record. The market needs a strong off-course retailer as it keeps everyone pushing forward with what they do.
Has there been a key product that has driven the brand forward this year?
I think one of the things that has been great is the spread of different products throughout the range that have sold phenomenally well. Our C2i range of compact trolleys is about 25% of what we do, which is fantastic. Our GPS Rental has been phenomenally successful, and there isn’t another option on the market like it. But the market still loves traditional electric trolleys. It’s still the FW series that makes up three-quarters of our sales and covers the widest range of price points with our good, better, best philosophy.
How are PowaKaddy different to other golf brands?
We’re a family company. Yes, we’re the market leader, but my father started this company. I run the company now. Retailers know their sales agents, they know that they can phone head office and that they will speak to the same people. They can build a good rapport with the staff. We’re not a big behemoth like the hardware brands.
How do PowaKaddy help their retailers?
The GPS Trolley I mentioned earlier is a big winner for the green grass retailer. Because of the GPS feature they can charge more for the rental. Our sales guys were unsure when we told them that it was going to be the only rental option, but that decision has been justified. The trolley usually pays for itself in just a matter of weeks. Then for the rest of the year, it’s producing clear profit for the retailer. We offer the trolley with a two-year transferable warranty so at the end of the season they can sell it on to a consumer and give the buyer peace of mind. The pro is then in a position to get the latest model the following season. It’s a great product that has flown for us.
We’re working really hard on our point of sales materials. We work with a leading manufacturer who has been doing a fantastic job with one of the top apparel brands. We’re putting more of our display plinths in the store all the time, and they really help elevate the product in-store.
We’ve spent a lot of time getting our swing tags right. It’s a small detail that can really help sell the product. There’s not always a salesman nearby, but with our new clear swing tags, all the information on the trolley models is laid out in front of the customer.
I think maybe the most important service we offer to the is our delivery times. First of all we’ve got modular trolley designs. Everything from the FW3 to the FW7 is built using the same frame and this means we can be really flexible to meet demand on specific models. More importantly, if a retailer orders a trolley before 12 PM, they will get that trolley the next day. We’re in the Amazon age, and consumers expect that level of service.
Has the Electric Trolley market changed much in the last 12 months?
For us, we’re finding consumers are buying more expensive models. According to Golf Data Tech our average selling price is £20 more expensive than our competitors. Golfers aren’t just buying the base models, with reasonable price increments it’s easy for a pro to upsell into a more fully featured model. Our FW7 GPS sells far more units than the standard FW7, and that’s our most expensive model. Consumers are happy to pay for the best features as long as they still feel they are getting value for money. We pride ourselves on our attention to detail ensuring our trolleys are made of the best quality possible; whether it is the bespoke engineered PowaFrame chassis, or the pyrex tempered glass wheel bearings or the thinnest and highest energy lithium battery on the market.
Is there still substantial growth left in the Trolley market?
We can definitely grow our business. It’s a mature market with two key players. But more golfers are buying trolleys every year. There used to be a stigma about using a trolley, but electric trolleys, plus push trolleys have changed the perception over the years. And at this point, we are selling fewer batteries only to convert from lead-acid to lithium batteries, and golfers are just buying whole new trolleys instead. So there are definitely still more people we can sell trolleys too.
How is the brand doing globally?
We’ve just signed with a new distributor in Germany which we’re really excited about. It’s a very different market to the UK when it comes to electric trolleys, they are happy to spend on more expensive models, ours are fantastic value against some of the other brands in their market. Elsewhere our market share is growing.
What comes next for electric trolleys?
We’re always working on the next evolution. We’ve got a four-man design team based in the UK who are always working on something new. However, expect solid incrementally improved designs rather than total sea changes. We make the trolleys better every year. Battery technology is evolving all the time, and we use the same cell design as Tesla. But it won’t be another change like lead-acid to lithium which has been a total game changer for the electric trolley business.
How are you planning to make 2019 the best year for the brand?
We really feel like it is the strongest, most complete range that we have ever had. We are launching an exciting new model soon and with this new addition to the range it will ensure that there is a trolley for every type of golfer. With this we are continually striving to keep serving the retailer quickly and efficiently, and ensure our trolleys are the most reliable in the marketplace. GR