A year ago I met with Chris Lindner who had recently taken over as the President of FootJoy. Now he has got his FootJoys firmly under the desk, I met with him at the 2018 PGA Merchandise show to see how things were going one year on.
Hi Chris. How has the first year been for you?
It's been incredible, first of all it's good to see you again thanks again for stopping by. It's been an incredible year and to see some initiatives now come to life a year later that I remember us talking about it's been really, really amazing.
The team at FootJoy, and I knew it then but again now with a year more of experience, working with this incredible team of passionate people, dedicated only to golf, creating incredible product and now really focused on connecting with golfers all over the world. It's been an exciting year and we're looking forward to 2018.
Has anything surprised you in the last year that you maybe weren't expecting?
I don't know if there's been any surprises. Certainly I'm coming from outside the industry and I feel like I've had some related experiences that have been helpful, but learning a lot about the golf category and industry has been great.
The people are not a surprise because I knew them, but I have to say that the quality of people and the passion and the dedication just hits me every day.
We're coming off a global sales meeting for the last five days here in Orlando, and the energy and excitement and the enthusiasm of our team, who by the way have a lot of tenure and experience in the industry, just is inspirational for me, so it's been a fantastic year.
I've seen the key products you've got coming out this year and the Tour-S is probably the shoe that's the main headline one. What do you think it will bring to the market?
The Tour-S is a shoe that was really inspired by working with PGA Professionals both on the European Tour and the PGA Tour. And in working with them really one of the key things that they were asking for was it was a stable platform.
When you talk to tour players at the highest calibre, they put their hands up almost like this and that inspired the design this hexagonal design for the power pods that exists on the outsole of the Tour-S and provides them with a strong stable platform so that they could generate more power and precision and that has been exactly what that team achieved.
Rafa Cabrera-Bello is a great example as he's also an F1 fan and he talked about the shoe as not unlike an F1 car where you place the wheels to the outside. It was one of those design opportunities that gave him the stable platform that he needs to perform.
So we're really excited about that launch and its really fun to see consumers get a first-hand chance to play and hit balls in the shoe at the demo day this week.
With the Pro-SL last year you also increased the stability, so is this a longer term trend?
Yeah, I think as you know we work with different players and different swing types and I think, as you know, some swing types that respond more to the stable platform.
There are other types of golfers, Adam Scott's a good example, he helped a lot with the design input to Tour-S, but he recognises that he's got very quiet feet throughout the swing. Probably the quietest feet on tour.
So Pro-SL is a shoe that he feels really comfortable in, plenty of traction, but enough new stability so that golfer obviously at his level is getting exactly what he needs from performance out of that shoe.
You've been very big in clothing in the last few years and now FootJoy has launched this 1857 range. Can you explain a bit about the name and what the range is about?
Well, this has been an exciting launch for the PGA show. 1857 is the original founding year of FootJoy and so in many ways this is an opportunity to celebrate what's really in our heart and the passion of FootJoy, which is making quality shoes.
From the beginning we've been dedicated to golf for over 160 years and so in 1857 original founder Fred Packer opened a factory in Brockton, Massachusetts that was making the original FootJoy shoes. Now this year we're returning to kind of the classic styling that we're hearing so many dedicated golfers say "Hey I'm really interested in that."
So we partnered with a third generation footwear maker out of Italy who's bringing the finest Italian calf skin materials and craft. We're creating a Goodyear welted product, we're using the original last, called the Aintree last that we established in Brockton, Massachusetts, and we're making the shoes the same way we did back in the original factory.
Because we're a head-to-toe wearables brand, we surrounded the collection with luxury performance apparel and it's just exquisite material. Supima cottons and cashmeres that just really bring the entire collection to life. So we're launching it here at the tradeshow in February, it'll deliver in US markets only in 2018 in July for the fall season and that will open up distribution in 2019 outside of the US.
This is quite a premium range so is it going to be available in lots of places or have you got a fairly restricted distribution?
We see it being distributed at the finer clubs around the world, so I think it'll be a much smaller collection of clubs ultimately. But obviously we're going to go where that dedicated golfer who's demanding of these luxury materials and this type of look and feel will we'll be most interested in the product.
In terms of selling direct and online, how is that going for you?
Yeah, going very well. We do sell direct in the US and key markets in Europe as well as Canada and 1857 will be part of that collection.
As you know though, especially with our apparel, over 70% of our apparel is customised to the golf club and I think that's really where we're excited about this line. To support those better clubs where their members and their guests of members are looking for that that special piece from a Pine Valley or Cypress or some of the better clubs in the world. So, we'll embellish the product and we see a lot of custom opportunities around that to support our best PGA Tour members.
I think this time last year I was asking you about technology in clothing and whether we were seeing sensors or tracking included. Are you any further down the road with that?
We're doing a lot of advanced concept work from a material story across our entire line and especially on the rain wear and outerwear front. We've had some really great advances over the years for FootJoy outerwear, we're a leader here in North America, we think that's a really exciting next opportunity for so this time next year some exciting news to share with you I'm sure.
Well that's great, we will look forward to hearing more. Thanks very much for your time.
Your welcome, great seeing you again.
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