Trends & Features

John Moore Sports has been in business for over a century

Business has gone from strength to strength over the last 100 years, John Moore Sports managing director Rob Moore says

What’s the story behind John Moore Sports?
Bath-based John Moore Sports was established in 1912. Formerly owned by England Cricketer Len Braun and named The Sports Depot, the business was acquired by my great-grandfather, John Moore, in 1912 and renamed accordingly. Today, four generations on, the business is going from strength to strength.

Last year, after 102 years at its old site, we relocated the business to a slightly more spacious location – although 100 years ago, shoppers wouldn’t be buying composite hockey sticks, heart rate monitors and graphite tennis racquets. Instead, a typical John Moore Sports customer of yesteryear would browse the shelves for butterfly jars, ferret muzzles, shotguns, fishing tackle and perhaps a wooden tennis racquet or cricket bat.

How has business changed over the years?
The move to a larger shop last year not only gave us more space, but most importantly, it gave us the opportunity to combine our sports offering with schoolwear, providing us with the opportunity to cross-sell and maximise our business potential.

What are your plans to take the business forward?
We’re very open-minded. We tend to let our business evolve with the demand for different sports and interests. Several years ago we opened the doors to our own dedicated rugby outlet, which has been exceedingly popular with players and fans. In the immediate future, we would like to focus our efforts on honing our existing offering and exploring the idea of in-store events.

What are your current best-selling products and brands?
Aside from schoolwear, we stock equipment and clothing for a host of sports, from archery, badminton and cricket, to hockey, football, rugby, running, squash, swimming and tennis.

Our best-selling products and brands vary according to sport and department – from Nike in women’s wear, ASICs in footwear and Babolat in tennis, to Speedo in swimwear, Canterbury in rugby and Grays in hockey.

Who are your competitors?
Aside from the internet, which is always a threat, we have a couple of specialist sports shops in Bath, as well as the larger chains. We compete by trying to offer something different and finding a gap in the market that isn’t catered for. Also, we like to give our customers the service they deserve and create a pleasurable shopping experience, which they will hopefully remember and wish to replicate time and time again.

Is there anything special you do as a shop that helps you stand out?
We would like to think we offer over and above the average level of customer service. Also, with the launch of our new shop, we have attempted to meld the old with the new, providing a shopping experience that showcases heritage, including antique tennis racquets and ancient cricket stumps, while displaying cutting-edge sports equipment.

Are you a member of any buying groups?
We are a member of Intersport, which is fantastically forward thinking and supportive, while offering a considerable number of benefits.

How does the business in your physical shop compare with that online?
Our physical shop accounts for the majority of our business, although we do have an online presence, which we would like to grow.

Would you ever consider becoming an internet-only trader?
We would never say never, but an internet-only trader is a totally different business proposition, as you’re certainly trading more on price than on experience, service or heritage.

What do you like most about your business?
The best thing about our business is that we are in charge of changing and evolving it. Also, every day is different – you can mould your working day according to how your mood takes you. If you’re feeling sociable, you spend your day on the shop floor, chatting to customers and getting a feel for what’s in demand and then the next day you might be crunching numbers or devising the next marketing campaign.

What has been your biggest challenge?
Aside from the odd awkward customer, our biggest challenge was most definitely opening our new shop last year. Trying to get fully grown men in the design and building trade not to argue and shout like little children was a totally exhausting experience and one we wouldn’t like to repeat in a hurry.

Would you do anything differently given your time again?

No regrets – always look forward.

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