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Posted by: Sportslink on 08/08/2016

Sportspower’s new brooms, big plans

Sportspower’s new brooms, big plans

Bringing a load of sports apparel and footwear wholesale experience and product development to his new sports retail career, Mark Delahunt is driving  “a new look” as the industry changes. Sportslink editor Maggie Coleman reports

Appointed the Group General Manager – Sports and Outdoors, Delahunt (pictured right) joined Associated Retailers Limited in mid-June and spoke to Sportslink on the final leg of his trip to Queensland in late July, meeting members, attending trade shows  and catching up with suppliers.

He was travelling with Scott Bradley, Retail Operations Manager who has been in the role since late June and he too brings wide experience to ARL which has  600 plus doors nationally across several brands – including Sportspower, Sportscene, Compleat Angler, Camping World, Toyworld, Mensland, Shoex  and Manchester House.

The duo are taking a new look at sports retailing in a changed world – Sportspower was established as a buying group in 1978 with eight members – and  has established a 90-day plan, focussed on “making ourselves accountable to our members and their customers,” says Delahunt.

“The plan is simple: it’s looking at our customers, our brand positioning, how we should be marketing ourselves and looking at our communications.

“We have been using the slogan ‘your local expert’ over several years and now we are promoting that much more, capitalising on local heroes running stores or working there, pushing the value of community.”

Sportspower currently has 136 doors and three Sportscene doors, so “we are trying to make stores look and feel the same across the country, pushing for consistency so that spend on marketing and promotion will be effective.”

Says Bradley, who comes from a start-up and franchising background, including establishing his own frozen yoghurt stores and franchises and assisting with launching start-ups, “We want to build up the franchising content for members, presenting them with new ideas and consistent presentation guidelines.”

To that end, 30 leading Sportspower stores will meet in Melbourne in mid-August to examine new signage and fit-out designs, marketing plans, POS and promotional opportunities.

A Melbourne store is to be set up as a pilot, to demonstrate the new livery and design, signage, lighting, POS, new approach for designing customer navigation around stores and more.

Less product is to be more, to be cleanly displayed, with major brands more visible and product for women more easily seen and accessed.

On their trip down the sunny Queensland coast from Gladstone south, the duo report they found some members enthusiastic about the evolution, others  more wary,  a  polarisation between  long term members and those who have joined the group in the past five years, which is to be expected, says Delahunt.

His team in Victoria’s Burnley is now known as the Support Office  and will head the focus  on bringing the sports retailing group forward at a faster rate.

“Our committees are greatly valued but we will be focussing on re-positioning them as merchandisers rather than buying teams, to follow global trends of ranging less breadth of product. ”

The team reports it has already met with majors including Nike, ASICS, New Balance and adidas to discuss the new strategy with  “very positive response.”

“Catalogues will continue but will focus more on brands, rather than product and price and we will updating our web portal and social media, to focus on brand consistency and to ensure our members know that they will get what they need from us.”

Says Delahunt, “Our stores will be easier for consumers to shop, and in time these strategies will transfer to Camping World and Compleat Angler as well as other retail brands.

Says Delahunt, who brings extensive experience including 16 years with Nike in Australia and the US, plus years with Puma and 12 months with 2XU to his  new role with its whirlwind start, “We are moving fast but we have to stay focussed, and it is vital l keep my eye on the horizon.”