Glenmuir and Sunderland of Scotland
Interview with Matt Ward
Mikhel Ruia has been the Managing Director for 8 years responsible for Product Design and Buying, Marketing and e-Commerce. Many things may have changed since the company’s beginnings in 1891, but the purpose was, is and always will be to craft the world’s most loved golf clothing.
Golf shirts, golf sweaters and golf outerwear from Lanark, Scotland — The Home of Golf — are sent to the four corners of the world in over 30 countries.
You hear the words Ryder Cup – what comes to mind?
Camaraderie, spirit, history.
How does Glenmuir’s involvement with the matches impact the company’s overall identity?
The Ryder Cup and Glenmuir share a rich heritage and prestige in golfing history. Glenmuir is one of the longest standing Ryder Cup partners having been Official Licensee and Team Supplier for over 30 years. In fact, the European Ryder Cup team wore Glenmuir shirts and knitwear on their first victory on American soil in 1987 at Muirfield Village. We tell this story through our men’s Ryder Cup clothing and ladies’ Ryder Cup clothing.
Official Men’s Ryder Cup Golf Clothing
Brand loyalty is central to a company’s success –who is the Glenmuir customer?
Our customers are a longstanding and loyal discerning group of male and female golfers who are subtly elegant, appreciate craftmanship and natural fibers, understand quality and durability. Our customers have been part of our 130-year journey, and we are excited to dress future generations of golfers all coming together for the love of the game, that is the spirit of golf, that is the spirit of Glenmuir.
What’s the major distinction between Glenmuir and your chief rivals in the apparel area?
Glenmuir is unique as it is one of the last remaining golf apparel brands still based in Scotland, globally recognized as the Home of Golf. We are also a family independent business focused on dedication to the craft which allows our 95 strong team in Lanark, Scotland to treat each golf clothing order with love, care, and attention.
Official Ladies’ Ryder Cup Golf Clothing
Companies have had to make major adjustments in dealing with the global pandemic. How have things fared at Glenmuir?
We have had a decent 2021 with sales up 50% so far this year vs last year. The challenge now will be to maintain this growth as we navigate potential further lockdowns in the 30 countries that we have presence in. Our men’s golf shirt and ladies’ shirts have seen a huge demand given the favorable weather and we have seen strong orders of Sunderland golf waterproofs which we envisage will pick up again as we go into Winter.
Are there lasting lessons from the pandemic and if so, what are they?
Two lessons really: Digital and being over-prepared. The move to online has been unprecedented across all industries. Glenmuir and Sunderland of Scotland were well placed to handle this surge in demand as we have been investing in eCommerce and technology over the past 5 years both B2C and B2B. With regards to being over-prepared, the pandemic has taught us all that plans change without notice and don’t follow forecasts or budgets. As a family business we can be agile and proactive vs the other larger sportswear companies which bodes well in the post-pandemic era.
Official Men’s Ryder Cup Golf Waterproofs
Are there differences between how men and women shop? If so, in what way?
From our experience, the Glenmuir customer is savvy and put trust in us so they tend to know what product they want and buy new colors every 6 months in the same product or a zip neck golf sweater if they bought a v neck the previous time. Ladies tend to be able to put golf outfits together more easily whereas men generally find it more difficult which is why we created our golf looks online tool where our designers have curated coordinated golf outfits to make life easier.
In rough percentage terms — what are Glenmuir sales via green grass shops, brick and mortar outlets and online efforts?
Currently around 75% are through golf resorts, green grass pro shops, 20% is online (which is the fastest growing) and 5% is brick and mortar high street golf specialist retail. We export from Lanark, Scotland globally to over thirty countries including Ireland, Switzerland, France, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Australia, South Africa, South Korea, Canada, and Russia.
Official Ladies’ Ryder Cup Golf Waterproofs
Do professional golfer endorsements matter and what’s the upside / downside in having such involvements?
Professional golfer endorsements do play an important role in reinforcing quality in your product, but we have also embraced the growing role of social influencers. We have a stable of brand ambassadors including golfers Ian Woosnam (Former World No. 1 and US Masters Champion), Aaron Rai (2 European Tour Wins and PGA Tour Player), Felicity Johnson (2 Ladies European Tour Wins), Carmen Alonso (1 Ladies European Tour Win), Bella Angel (Instagram Influencer 250k followers), Lloydi Golf (Youtube and Instagram Influencer), Clare Balding OBE (Sports Personality) and Thom and Max Evans (Sports Personalities and ex-Scotland National Rugby Players).
Prediction for the matches?
Hate to admit it, but I think the US will take the cup this year. The home advantage plays a huge role in the Ryder Cup and this year it will be even more pronounced due to the various COVID restrictions on travel into the US which will mean far fewer fans chanting Olé Olé Olé in European blue.
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