Trends & Features

Industry interview: Penny Toogood, junior sportswear category and communications manager at HEAD UK

When did you get into the sports trade?
I have always known I wanted to work in the sports trade, as I chose to study a business and sports coaching degree at Oxford Brookes University. Having been a county junior player and worked as a tennis coach both in the UK and abroad, gaining the position of communications manager for HEAD UK 18 months ago was a great natural progression for me.

What other brands do you admire?
Large apparel and footwear brands such as Nike and adidas, which are front runners across multiple sports, are inspirational. This high brand visibility is something HEAD would like to be able to replicate in the world of tennis sportswear and footwear.

Biggest influence on your career?
HEAD has a large number of employees globally and being able to meet and work with fellow colleagues from other countries has given me a greater insight into other markets. These experiences have enabled me to make positive changes and developments across all aspects of my role.

Proudest professional moment?
Being appointed as junior sportswear category manager in January 2015, in addition to my communications manager role. This added responsibility has allowed me to develop my career and expand my knowledge into sportswear. The promotion comes at an exciting time, as HEAD, which is already an innovative and iconic performance brand, is now pushing the sports style boundaries for fashion.

How important is it for HEAD’s tennis business to have brand ambassadors of the calibre of Murray, Djokovic and Sharapova?
Players like these are not only great ambassadors for the brand, but actually form part of our brand identity. Having these household names to work with us at HEAD have a great influence on the next generation of tennis players looking to find their ultimate racquet brand.

How’s the sportswear and footwear parts of the business performing?
HEAD is investing a lot of time and resources in R&D to progress our sportswear and footwear ranges. This is with the aim to bring them more in line with the success currently being achieved with HEAD racquets. 2015 has seen positive growth for HEAD UK’s sportswear, with sales more than double 2014’s figures.

What plans do you have for the brand in the short, medium and long term?
In the short-term, we’re looking to increase the brand visibility of HEAD UK’s sportswear and footwear through the continued support of a network of clubs, coaches and players across the country.

Over the last two years we have run some PR events with HEAD UK ambassador Judy Murray. Pre-Wimbledon 2015, we held a successful blogger tennis masterclass with Judy. This was the first time HEAD UK had engaged with fashion and lifestyle bloggers.

We received great social media coverage from the event, resulting in some of our key UK retailers reporting a spike in their online sales of our tennis apparel ranges. This is something we will look to replicate as part of our long-term development plan and promotion of sportswear and footwear and will ultimately help to continue our upward trend in sales across this area for 2016 and beyond.

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