Straight off the peg
Tony Wilkinson, who has spent the last six years masterminding the growth of Greg
Norman Collection in the European market, answers PSE’s questions
hat is your Talk about your parent company.
background? The man at the top, Roy Howell, is a
I have over 25 years’ strategic licensing expert with knowledge
experience of the of several markets, most notably the
golf market, many gaming industry. Severn Under is privately
of those working with apparel brands. funded, so we can react quickly to market
I was involved in the original launch of conditions and make things happen
Greg Norman Collection in 1992 and overnight if need be without external
returned in 2002 to instigate and manage constraints. That’s a wonderful luxury in
its re-launch. I was also managing director today’s climate.
for Ashworth, which I restructured to
make more efficient, and I also launched Severn Brow Holdings recognised the What is their level of investment?
Callaway Golf apparel. I feel I have a clear commercial viability of the GNC brand The warehouse and embroidery machines
understanding of the apparel market and and purchased the European licence. are a serious investment. We also continue
the needs of green-grass outlets. A new company, Severn Under, was to invest in marketing programmes which
created to manage this licence and I was directly support the green-grass pro.
Where is your company based? appointed brands director. It all happened
We have retained our customer services very quickly but the new set-up is superb Do you need green-grass outlets?
team in Lancaster and have recently and we all share a clear vision of GNC’s Our business is 95 per cent green-grass
opened a central warehouse and future. so it’s vital we support the pro shop,
showroom in Bridgnorth, Shropshire. We regardless of size or location. We invest
employ 10 full-time staff and will expand Where in the market is GNC positioned? heavily in merchandising and display,
the team as we grow. The new warehouse The GNC customer is typically 40-plus and pride ourselves in making virtually
is purpose-built and equipped with state- and appreciates quality, stylish apparel. He any space look professional. If any green-
of-the-art embroidery machinery so we wants a classic look yet values performance grass outlet is serious about wanting more
can deliver top-quality product quickly technologies that are subtly embedded in apparel revenue, we can make it happen.
and efficiently while ensuring competitive the garment. He needs GNC’s attention-
margins for retailers. We also have seven to-detail styling and trusts our comfort Can golf pull through the next two years?
sales agents covering the UK and Ireland, parameters. Our prices are competitive, The biggest challenge will be weather-
and ten distributors across Europe. so we offer something to every golfer. driven rather than economy-driven. We’ve
But where the price increases, as for just had two poor summers. Give us great
Apart from knitwear and trousers, what some Signature pieces which incorporate weather and more people will play golf.
other new product is in the pipeline? high-end luxury cottons and finishes, the
Our knitwear and trousers are sourced in customer sees the enhancements and is What should the game’s priorities be?
Europe and offer exceptional quality at prepared to pay more. The priority should be to make golf
competitive price points. They have been more available to the masses. Clubs
specially selected to enhance our range of How important are good margins? should entice people with more flexible
polos, knits, trousers and outerwear which Our goal is to deliver consistently good membership schemes.
bring performance, luxury and style to margins. We know that’s very important
the average golfer. We are continuing with to the pro. We also understand the How do you see the future of the golf
our Play Dry range and lightweight ML50 importance of reliable service and strong, market and GNC in, say, five years time?
polos while employing new developments vibrant product. These elements combine ‘Gloom and doom’ talk is being bounced
such as Temperature Control Technology. to make an apparel brand successful around but golf still has a special place
All technologies are embedded into in people’s lives. Leisure activities are
the weave of the garment so they never Where are your products made and how supported through lean times and golf
deteriorate or wash out. long does delivery take? will remain a popular way to unwind. In
Our range is mainly manufactured in Asia terms of Severn Under and GNC, our goal
There has been some upheaval in GNC and we work on a 180-day lead time, but is to be Europe’s No 1 independent golf
recently. Please outline what happened? product sourced in Europe has a much brand within five years. We have the tools
Two years ago, GNC Europe became a shorter lead time. Our new warehouse to achieve that sensibly. It’s been a time of
division of MacGregor Golf Europe which holds more stock than ever and enables us upheaval, but we’re ready to get the job
went into administration last September. to respond quicker to customers’ requests done.
10 January 2009 PRO SHOP EUROPE
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