When did you get into the sports trade?
Over 35 years ago. I started my career with a wholesale distribution company as a management trainee and was lucky enough to get a good grounding in various roles, including department manager, buyer and product manager, and work with a number of brands.
I was instrumental in developing Gola, which was the first sports brand I was involved with. I also worked with Mizuno, where I launched the company’s sports division and developed it into a multi-million pound entity, and previously with ASICS as a distributor.
Although footwear was my first area of expertise, I quickly moved into other areas of the industry, such as equipment and racket sports, with the likes of Fischer and Tecnifibre.
What’s your role at Smash Sports?
I share ownership of Smash Sports with a partner and in my role as commercial director I work closely with our brand owners and my fellow directors to forecast sales, as well as manage our margins costs and pricing structures.
For the last few years we were looking for another suitable partnership with a product that would fit our areas of expertise and in July we became the distributor for Salming, whose biggest area of business is indoor sports footwear. This has proved to be an immediate success and we expect to double the business in 2015.
Smash Sports’ main point of difference is that, very early on in the business, we ensured our IT systems were able to back up the retailers we supply, as well as our catalogues and internet presentations, which we put together in-house.
What’s been your career highlight to date?
While working in the sports industry has allowed me to travel the world extensively sourcing and buying products, my career highlight has been what Smash Sports has achieved as an independent distribution company.
What brands do you admire and why?
I admire the smaller brands that focus on specialist products and bring them to markets where the major, well established brands are already operating. It’s a very hard job, but a fresh approach can still result in a major success.
How has business been during the past 12 months?
The business as a whole has grown 20 per cent this year and we’re currently working with four experienced sports agents to grow both Tecnifibre and Salming even further.
Growth areas of the business?
The indoor shoe business we’re doing with Salming has been a major growth area for us. With regards to Tecnifibre, it’s been tennis and squash. Our squash racket sales are growing at around 15-20 per cent a year. The Tecnifibre range of strings continues to grow year on year and adds further status, value and performance to our tennis and squash rackets.
What type of shops stock your brands?
Specialist independent racket sports retailers. We deal with the majority of the shops that fall into this category in the UK.
What plans do you have for your brands in 2015?
As an ATP linked brand, Tecnifibre will be at The O2 Arena in London this November for the ATP World Tour Finals, where some of its new products will be on display. We’re also planning the launch of a new range of Tecnifibre squash rackets, which will be available next April.
In addition to this, we’re gearing up to unveil a new range of Salming products, which is not related to the indoor sports market, before the end of the year.
Looking at the business as a whole, next year we’re aiming to increase further the number of specialist retailers stocking our brands, as well as the amount of emerging players using the products. As ever, we’re willing to work with retailers who need assistance promoting Tecnifibre and Salming via local coaches and players.
2015 is going to be a big year for Smash Sports. Even though we’ve only been distributing Salming for six months in the UK, we’ll be applying the same proven strategy we used to grow Tecnifibre in this country.
For more information call Smash Sports on 01932 781311 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.