Martin Hopley
By Martin Hopley

Galvin Green are the UK's leading golf outerwear brand and with a new windproof performance layer just out that will be used in the 2018 Ryder Cup, I met UK Managing Director Greg Pearse in appropriate conditions to find out more.

Greg Pearse Galvin Green

Hi Greg. You've got a new product range coming out called Interface-1 which is not really a waterproof jacket and it's not a warm layer, so can you explain what it is and why you brought it out?

Interface sits within what we call our shell layer and that's where you'll find our Gore-Tex product, which is our fully waterproof product. Interface is about really allowing golfers to play in a multitude of conditions.

Galvin Green Interface-1 Outerwear

If the golfer wants the ultimate in waterproofs he's going to buy a Gore-Tex jacket, but Interface will also perform whether it's windy weather or it's quite cold. There's a combination of products that fall under the Interface umbrella and they're all highly water repellent and they're windproof.

They're also very quiet, they're very stretchy and when golfers try these products on they're going to see a great ability to perform and a lot of versatility.

We talk about how this product can be worn 95 out of 100 rounds and the reason we've said that is, unless it's boiling hot or it's an absolute monsoon, we believe that Interface will allow golfers to enjoy their game and perform no matter what the weather throws at them.

Galvin Green Interface

I've had a chance to use an Interface-1 jacket and I probably would agree that you do seem to want to wear it most times because it is so light. What would be the difference between Gore-Tex, Windstopper and Interface?

The main difference is that it is lighter than Windstopper and we will not class Interface as 100% waterproof like Gore-Tex. The reason is that in order to be classed as waterproof, you have to steam seal the seams around the jacket. That's not done with Interface and the reason we do that is to improve the breathability.

The actual fabric is incredibly water repellent and the benefits of doing this sort of approach means that we can make it lighter. We've added more stretch and as you've experienced when you've been playing with the product, you almost don't realise you're wearing a jacket. That's one of the great things about Interface is that it just works so well with your swing and it gives you that extra performance layer without even noticing it.

These products are created in Sweden, so why do you make them there and not in the Far East like so many other companies?

All the products are designed in Sweden and some of them are made in other parts of Europe, but ultimately whether it's in China, Portugal, Italy or Korea, we will only use the best factories. We want to make sure that we make high-quality clothing and deliver products that you know are befitting of the Galvin Green brand

Galvin Green are the official weather wear provider to the European Ryder Cup team for 2018. Are they going to be using the Interface-1 layer as well?

I'm really happy to say, yes, they are. The way the deal is structured is that we are the weather wear supplier to the European Team, which means we provide the Gore-Tex waterproof which we are very proud and excited to do.

We can't wait to unveil the Ryder Cup products in July 2018, but when we presented Interface as a fabric and showed Captain Thomas Bjorn some of the jackets that were going to be in the collection, he was extremely keen to ensure that Interface was part of the weather wear that we provided.

Galvin Green Interface

One of the things Thomas is really keen on is ensuring that the players look the same, so we've made the design of the Interface jacket very similar to the Gore-Tex jacket. That design remains under wraps until July when it gets revealed.

However it's really exciting for us to launch the technology now to the market, knowing that in September 2018 the best players in Europe will be taking on the USA and Interface will be part of what's in their wardrobe.

You were saying earlier that Interface really wasn't part of the original deal with the Ryder Cup as you had created it later, but that they were interested in taking it, presumably because it will be ideal for the conditions?

Correct. I think you know a lot of people kind of joke with us that we must just be praying for rain at the Ryder Cup and in one respect yes we are. However, as everyone knows, particularly those first two days when there's two lots of matches that take place in the morning in the afternoon, the guys start very early, they finish late, so even if it is dry it's usually quite chilly, the wind can be blowing and therefore we're very excited because it's pretty much nailed on that Interface will be worn.

Obviously if there's heavy rain then that's where the Gore-Tex comes in, but it will be a great endorsement for the Interface technology when the Ryder Cup team wears it.

What does Gavin Green as a brand get from sponsoring the weather wear at the Ryder Cup?

Firstly we are incredibly proud to be in this position and I think we've spoken before about how we were approached to be the supplier for the for the outerwear for the team based on the reaction of golfers across Europe to our brand and our strong market shares and the amount of product that was on show at Gleneagles.

Ryder Cup 2018 Flags

For us the pride is driven by the credibility that you get from the association with the best players in Europe. It's really kind of a validation to say that every two years, Europe's finest players come together and as a team the Captain wants to put his trust in Galvin Green to ensure that if it's blowing, if it's raining, if it's cold, that we can provide those extra layers to allow the guys to play and perform and hopefully win that trophy back.

You have quite a dominant position in the UK in terms of sales with around a 30% lead over the next competitor. What have you done to get to that position, because I know when we spoke last year you changed your distribution model and were focusing on smaller stores?

Like any company, we've made some strategic decisions on where to find our brand, because it will have a big impact on how it is seen and sold.

We're a privately owned business, so we're not publicly owned where there may be shareholder pressure, and therefore we don't have to chase sales and we can make the right decisions for our brand.

In the long term it's just really important that you find our brand in the right shops. We want to be in shops where the product is displayed really well. We want to be in shops where our customers are stocking the full layering story and ultimately they have the education, the knowledge and the belief in our brand.

Whether in-store or online, we want to make sure that the brand is presented in a way that's befitting of what we want to be, which is ultimately to be the leading premium technical performance brand in golf apparel.

So we will make those decisions, even if it sometimes means stepping away from sales, because we are all about performing products for the golfer and from a business perspective it’s about long-term sustainable and mutual growth with our customers.

Are they hard decisions to make internally?

They can be. I think it's important that you weigh up everything when you make big decisions around your brand and where it's found. But I think if you weigh everything up and you know what you're doing and have a clear plan as to what you want to achieve, it actually becomes very straight forward because there's no clouding it with regards to 'we want to do this, but how are we going to replace this lost business'.

Greg Pearse Galvin Green

We will do what's right for our brand and ultimately if you've got all the facts and you have the right people around the table, decision making should be pretty straightforward. I'm not saying there's not difficult decisions, but in general if everyone's clear on what that success is and you have a clear plan, you know that clarity should ensure the decisions are pretty straightforward.

How do you see the market for the rest of 2018 and even into 2019 in your particular category and for your brand?

The great thing about the golf industry for me is that there's not a 'must stock' brand in golf. You have to continually deliver great products, you have to make sure your brand is presented well, you have to ensure that you earn your space in a customer's shop and you have to ensure you excite golfers to come and buy your products.

So for us in 2018, one of the great things about Interface is that we used to be the brand that you could argue was always praying for rain, providing it doesn't obviously close golf courses. But heading into this year we're very excited about the mix of our products as it covers drier and warmer weather too.

As well as a really strong Gore-Tex waterproof collection and the new Interface-1 story, we also have some really strong designs with our Insula warm layer and our customers are telling us our shirts are the strongest collection they've seen in some time.

Galvin Green Interface-1 Outerwear

Obviously we've got the Ryder Cup in September, but we've also had some fantastic reaction to our new products on tour as well.

Someone like Chris Paisley who won down in South Africa in January, he's recently been voted the Player of the Month for January. I actually met with Chris a couple of weeks ago, literally the day after he took delivery of our new products and he was buzzing about them. Chris wore the 2018 collection at the WGC event in Mexico and that's his first WGC event.

So for us it allows our brand to be seen in a different light maybe to where it’s been seen before. Beyond 2018 it's about staying true to our plan, which is to deliver high-quality and innovative products that excite the golfer and to work with our customers to make sure that golfers ultimately aspire to own Galvin Green.

And as I said, there's no complacency, there’s no arrogance. There's lots of great brands out there, so in order to continue to succeed we have to make sure we stay ahead with what we do and deliver great products.

Thanks Greg and I'm very glad you don't have to keep praying for rain!

Exactly! Thanks Martin

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