Premium Golf Brands, the Cork-based clothing supplier, has jumped from wholesale into retail in dramatic fashion, with the opening of the company’s first flagship store, Fairway + Blue, in Puerto Banus on the Costa del Sol. PGB managing director Alan Dwyer spoke exclusively to Robin Barwick
Congratulations on the opening of Fairway + Blue. What is the rationale behind the new store?
This is PGB’s first flagship store and we are trying to create the ultimate shopping experience for fashion conscious golfers. The store is a 4,000-square-foot fashion golf store, and we have employed six staff, and we hope the store is going to breathe fresh air into golf retailing – something new and exciting.
It is easy to see the appeal of Puerto Banus, but why have you located your first ever store here?
We feel the Costa Del Sol is the home of holiday golf in Europe, and that Puerto Banus is the hub of Costa Del Sol. It is a perfect shop location to cater for golf visitors to Costa Del Sol, for golfing residents and holiday makers interested in purchasing lifestyle clothing that is not exclusively for wear on the golf course.
We can also see that golfers are beginning to flock back to the Costa del Sol. The financial crisis meant that green fees and accommodation rates have come down to reasonable levels, and so people are going back there now.
Is it your intention to roll-out this retail concept?
No, not at this point, as there are not too many other locations that we consider to be as dynamic as the Costa Del Sol.
As a company established in apparel manufacturing, why have you jumped across to the retail side of the industry?
Lots of fashion-lifestyle companies and brands cross over between wholesale and retail, and we are a lifestyle company with lifestyle brands. By opening our own store it is also the best way that we can offer our customers a premium in-store atmosphere and feel, yet with competitive retail prices. Our Calvin Klein golf shirts start from €50, Green Lamb from €40, while we also bring in brands such as Ralph Lauren and Golfino, with golf shirts starting at €80.
How has PGB found the challenge of converting into reality that concept of opening a store?
It has been very challenging! We wanted the shop fit to be perfect and over-spent on budget considerably; the store fit-out, before you take into consideration till systems and security, cost €250,000 alone. We wanted to give our customers a different shopping experience than they would receive calling into a typical golf store, so we added three mezzanines to give additional space and appeal. We located shoes into one mezzanine, a TV lounge in another, and we have a VIP area on the third mezzanine.
Finishing the store also took a little longer than expected. We made the decision to establish the store in August last year, with a view to opening on February 1. Eventually we opened on April 1, in the middle of the Costa del Sol’s spring golfing season, but we learnt a lot during the process and certainly it would be easier the second time around.
How has 2014 been for PGB so far as a whole?
Our year end is June 14, and this year will see our first significant rise in sales volumes since 2011. We will be up by close to 20% on last year and very much going in the right direction. We have focused on key accounts and certain niche areas which has paid dividends.
We are putting a large amount of time and money into our branding and sell-through, and next year will be a further stepping stone in the growth of sales volumes. Ck is very strong at present and Calvin Klein Inc. is opening 1,000 stores in Europe. The plans for the brand are very exciting and we are confident that Ck Golf will ride on the crest of the Calvin Klein wave across Europe. Our licensing business in Canada, US and Australia is very steady, but the real growth is happening in Asia, where our licensing income has quadrupled in the past year.
Where are PGB’s strongest apparel sales?
Dwyer’s & Co. is our strongest brand in terms of percentage growth, with 48% growth over last year. We are doing something different with Dwyer’s & Co and we hope to continue this growth.
How far developed are your plans for Spring 2015, and what can we expect from PGB?
Our Spring 2015 ranges were completed in March and we are now finalising catalogues and prices. Golf is changing at a faster pace than many other sports and we are finding sweet spots for our different brands within the new golf environment, so there are lots of new and different designs to look forward to in our launch in June.