The 66th PGA Merchandise Show, which added the inaugural Racquet & Paddle Sports Show and Conference in Orlando last week, was an opportunity to highlight new projects and products for the months ahead and evaluate growing-the-game initiatives. The U.S. golf market enjoyed a mid-single digit sales increase in 2018, a gain that research firm NPD Group attributes to the growing wave of retirees. Tennis, meanwhile, is seeing positive impact from the offshoot activity of Pickleball, whose popularity is widening and igniting more retail exposure for a growing range of products from paddles and balls to specialized backpacks.
In delivering their annual “State of the Industry” report, research firms Pellucid and Edgehill, seemingly confirmed NPD’s golf assessment, pointing out that the 55- to 64-year old set was the only demographic to grow in participation in 2018 with 2 percent growth versus declines for 18- to 24-year olds (-7%), 25- to 34-year olds (-5%) and the 45- to 54-year old group (-4%).
U.S. golf rounds fell 5 percent to 427 million in 2018, a factor driven entirely by weather, according to Pellucid. The game lost 100,000 players versus 1 million in some prior seasons, but the dollars spent on equipment were up on slight increases in pricing and units. Total rounds are forecast to rebound to 450 million in 2019, but more than 13 percent below a 2000 peak of 518.4 million rounds. Most geographies are projected to rally with more players in 2019, paced by the Rocky Mountain region (+30%) with the Gulf Coast (-11%) being the biggest laggard.
The potential of golf and tennis to gain additional traction this year and beyond may well lie in the attracting more consumers—Millennials, ethnic groups, women and juniors—to the performance and fashion looks of the sport’s soft goods for every day wear, even if they never set foot on a course or court.
Among the show’s brand highlights:
• Global Merino is introducing its first merino with biodegradable polyester (65/34) for Fall 2019 in apparel from a couple of European brands.
• Polartec has established a customized, Made in the USA fleece program in New Hampshire for the Direct-to-Consumer market that only utilizes its 200-wt., fully recycled product and doesn’t infringe on material sold to its wholesale accounts.
• Stance is introducing new editions of its Jack Nicklaus socks ($14, $18 retail).
• TTB Athletics, a St. Augustine, FL start-up is looking to license its patented, Gobi-Dri material for use on athleticwear.
• Sofibella, which sold its tennis wear for eight years into specialty and pro shops, boutiques and resorts, and online in the U.S., Canada, Australia and Eastern Europe, is adding golf apparel.
• SwingDish is a women’s only golfwear brand entering its fourth season that was launched by Tricia Covel, a golfer and wife of country singer Toby Keith. In 2019, for the first time, the Made in the USA brand will have a dedicated sales force.
• Orfiks is a unisex sock brand focused on the gym, golf and racquet markets.
• Icybreeze is a new portable air conditioner/cooler product from Sweetwater, TX. The product and technology was bought from person who appeared on “Shark Tank.”
• New Balance Golf is bringing the brand’s Fresh Foam midsole material to its golf shoe line-up in 2020.
• Tasc Apparel is introducing its MicroAir technology that utilizes ultra-fine fibers in 2-yarn construction into five polos in April.
This week, Unifi will announce the winners of its second annual REPREVE® Champions of Sustainability Awards at the Outdoor Retailer Snow Show. Get a sneak preview of the awards and our partners in innovation. (Read the full story here)
A former chief merchandising officer for Lowe’s and previous 20-year General Electric executive is the new president of omni-channel/retail for Bass Pro Shops-Cabela’s. Mike McDermott is replacing Jim Hagale, who spearheaded the business combination of the two outdoor specialists and Bass Pro’s transformation of the former Pyramid sports arena in Memphis, TN into a destination retail location.
Johnny Morris, founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops, called McDermott’s appointment “the beginning of an exciting new era” for the Springfield, MO company, and lauded him for his many qualifications. Among them: strong financial background, commitment to conservation and passion for serving customers.
At the home improvement chain, McDermott became CMO in 2014 and recently moved to EVP/Chief Customer Officer where he was a key member of Lowe’s senior team responsible for executing an omni-channel customer experience. He will likely tackle the same task for Bass Pro-Cabela’s.
At Foot Locker, the retailer has opened its first U.S.-based “Power Store” in Detroit, a freestanding, 8,500-sq. ft. store focused on family shopping with a women’s shop-in-shop and a Kids Foot Locker. With additional Power Stores operating internationally in London, Liverpool and Hong Kong, Foot Locker intends to expand the format by more than a dozen locations in 2019, including in New York, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. The Detroit store will offer special, localized assortments, including an adidas SPEEDFACTORY shoe designed by a Detroit native and apparel brands from local designers and personalities. The same local merchandising approach will no doubt figure into all new Power Stores.
Elsewhere, PGA Tour Superstore will enter the Boston market this spring with two doors. The first, in Northshore Shopping Mall, will debut Feb. 2 followed by a second store in Braintree, MA. Besides the Boston market, the off-course golf/tennis specialty chain intends to open stores in Miami and Sarasota, FL, Austin, TX and a second location in Denver to bring its store count to 41.
Bolstered by footwear, Brooks Running Co. global revenues rose 26 percent in FY18 to $644 million as footwear sales increased 28 percent and apparel increased 7 percent. Outside the U.S., the Seattle-based company saw EMEA annual revenues jump 27 percent, sparked by the DACH region, and APLA sales rose 26 percent that was sparked by Australia.
Sold in more 50 countries, the Berkshire Hathaway-owned subsidiary expanded its global footprint in key running markets last year, including South Korea, India and Mexico. The expansion into India included more than 20 retail location and availability on Amazon India.
The long-anticipated Nike/Fanatics licensing agreement with Major League Baseball, instead of prior league suitor Under Armour, became official Friday, weeks before clubs arrive in Arizona and Florida for 2019 spring training. Under the 10-year contract, the Swoosh will design all on-field apparel for players, including jerseys, base layers and warm-ups, and Fanatics will make and distribute all Nike MLB products sold at retail.
PGA Tour golfer Rickie Fowler, 30, who already has endorsement deals with Puma and Taylormade, has struck a long-term contract to be the global ambassador for performance underwear brand 2UNDR.
“Rickie has been a friend of the brand and has worn our product on TOUR for many years,” said Dave Williams, president and Co-founder of 2UNDR. “We are excited to tell the world about our relationship and collaborate on future product lines together.”
• CBS broadcaster Jim Nantz, who will call Super Bowl LIII from Atlanta on Sunday, has a new, signature apparel collection with vineyard vines. His football partner, former Dallas quarterback Tony Romo, meanwhile, wears and pitches for Skechers.
• Puma signs PGA Tour pro Gary Woodland to a multi-year partnership to don The Cat’s apparel, footwear and accessories on course. Ben Hogan signs top instructor Travis Fulton as a brand ambassador.
• Blizzard/Tecnica adds Hilaree Nelson and Jim Morrison, two elite ski mountaineers, to its global team.
• Cherokee Global Brand and India’s The Bantra Group rollout the first season collection of its new streetwear fashion label, Tony Hawk Signature line for Fall/Winter 2019 that hits select fashion and specialty skate stores worldwide in late June.
• Adidas has teamed with Japanese streetwear brand A Bathing Ape (BAPE) on a limited-edition capsule collection of cleats, footwear, apparel and equipment that applies BAPE’s design language. The collection will be available at a Social Status pop-up store in Atlanta on Feb. 1 and worldwide on adidas.com and BAPE store on Feb. 2.
Reed Exhibitions, in partnership with Performance Days that is produced by Germany’s Design & development GmbH Textile Consult, is launching a West Coast U.S. Functional Fabric Fair powered by PERFORMANCE DAYS on Oct. 22-23 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, OR. The sourcing event will feature products and technologies.
Concept III Textiles will collaborate with Reed Exhibitions and Design & Development GmbH Consult on the launch event that will include curated exhibits, workshops, industry presentations and professional networking. Textile manufacturers, suppliers and service providers will present their performance materials and technical textiles for the Winter 2021 season.
For more information, visit www.FunctionalFabricFair.com. Organizers may be contacted at email@example.com.
The Running Industry Association (RIA) intends to host the inaugural RIA KICK Show, June 3-6 in Denver with 26 presenting brands and space for 96 retail attendees. Day 1 and 2 of the boutique-style showcase will consist of line presentations from the Top 14 brands in the channel. Day 3, the Growth Track, will focus on additional presentations from leading accessory and emerging footwear and apparel brands. The non-profit group host, which does all of the presentation scheduling, will offer a comprehensive rebate program to retail attendees.
NSGA launches a “NSGA” program to recognize the most qualified, independent retailers and dealers in the sports industry. The VID originated from the trade organization’s Team Dealer Advisory Committee. For more information on the program, contact the NSGA’s Team Dealer Division Director, Marty Maciaszek, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Varsity Brands is partnering with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) on the new Varsity University/NFHS Coaches Education Program focused on sport safety certification for high school coaches. Initially, the initiative will focus on five areas—Sport Safety Certification, Coaching Development, Activity Specific Courses, Fitness and Wellness, Character Development and Sportsmanship. The Sports Safety Certification effort in 2019 includes seven courses ranging from coaching basics to the safety and wellness of young athletes.