Located in the La Colonia commercial centre in San Pedro de Alcántara, Golfino’s Marbella store has undergone a major refurbishment and redecoration to give it a more attractive style for visiting golfers and clients. The German apparel and accessories brand held a cocktail reception to present its new look, attended by Golfino chairman and CEO Dr. Bernd Kirsten, who took time out from the celebrations to speak to Andalucía Golf/España Golf.
Back in 1986, Golfino was set up essentially as a niche label, initially creating knitwear suitable for both the golf course and general “street wear”. What encouraged you to expand into more complete outfits for golfers?
There are two main reasons. One of them is that the number of golfers was rising and golf was becoming quite a large market. Also, it was a strategic decision. Around 1990 we wanted to become number one, and becoming number one in a niche market is easier than becoming number one in the large casual wear market. So the reason was to be European number one, which we are now.
What prompted you to expand the Golfino business to Spain? And specifically here in Marbella?
When we started in the late eighties, and especially in the early nineties, the Costa del Sol was already a very good holiday location, and a major golf area. But the specific reason was that I knew the owner of the German company Golf House, who owned this building. He was going to sell his business and, as we were already supplying Golf House and were just starting our own retail business 15 years ago, we thought it was a very good opportunity, rather than opening a new Golfino shop in a new location, to buy this store that people were already familiar with as a golf location.
What have been the keys to Golfino becoming Europe’s market leader for golf wear?
First of all product, and second our sales strategy. We always had a product that was very functional for golf and we blended that with a fashionable style. So that’s a unique thing about Golfino, a blend of fashion style and performance, but our sales strategy is also important. We were the first golf wear brand to set up our own mono-brand stores, and we were the first to offer shop concessions, so we very quickly started our own sales channels before anybody else and that’s what made us successful.
What do you mean by performance?
Weather protection, for example, anything from rain wear to sun protection, which is more important here, so we have many long-sleeved polo shirts with anti-UV coating. A lot of our merchandise is also good when you move – it’s very flexible – and the pattern cut is important, especially for trousers.
When you created Golfino in 1986 you were partly inspired by Bernhard Langer’s U.S. Masters win the previous year. Has Langer’s more recent success on the Champions Tour created a new wave of interest in the sport – in both Germany and elsewhere in Europe?
Before Bernhard Langer won the Masters golf was a very minor sport in Germany, but suddenly there was an interest in golf in all the mainstream media, so that was the reason why we started around that time. Nowadays he’s extremely successful but golf is already quite a big sport. In continental Europe it’s not as widely spread as maybe in Great Britain or America but it’s now popular so his recent success has not really had an impact on the market.
Do you have special ranges catering for older golfers, or do you find that players of all ages tend to have the same tastes in golf wear?
I think nowadays taste is not linked to age. So you have young people who are more conservative, and you have people who are older but have young tastes. What you do see when it comes to taste, with families, is that the children of somebody who buys at Golfino will probably not want to wear the same thing as their parents, so it’s a generational thing. However, regarding pattern and cut, because we have performance fabrics and styles, older people who are maybe not as slim as they used to be can still wear them very easily.
We have a wide range of styles, some that are a bit more neo-classical and others that are more fashionable. We also have what we call our heritage range, which is very traditional, but particularly popular with young people.
How would you define the distinctive Golfino fashion style? What are the latest trends in Golfino golf wear?
Our slogan is “Elegance in sport since 1986”, so the important thing about Golfino is that it is always in good taste, always elegant. You will never have colours that are not matching. It’s not loud, and it can sometimes be a bit understated – understated elegance – but the important thing is the taste of the colours and the taste of the matching garments. That’s what makes Golfino unique.
As for trends, for next spring/summer, we have a lot of blue tones, in dark navy tones, light tones and medium-range tones. Blue actually fits in very well if you are in a resort next to the sea. Another trend is that clothing has become even more casual, especially trousers in the ladies’ range. Many years ago you would probably have said, oh, these are jogging trousers or something like that, but nowadays this trend of having very a casual, sporting style is part of our collection as well. You will always have this blend of fashion and function – that is what makes Golfino stand out. Also, in golf wear, one thing that is important for Golfino is that we produce matching outfits. A lot of people who sell golf wear don’t have matching outfits, but we are very strong in offering colour-coordination. When people come into Golfino, both men and women, many like to buy a complete outfit and then they don’t have to think about what to wear next time. It’s a finished outfit, and that’s a strong point and what people like about Golfino.
Holiday Golf is the Golfino agent in Spain and Portugal. What are the most important qualities that each company brings to this partnership?
The first thing is that we are both market leaders. We are the market leader in golf apparel and golf wear in Europe, and Holiday Golf are the main distributors and agents for golf, not just golf wear, but for golf in Spain, so that’s quite important. They are also a very professional company who have a lot of other brands which fit in well with us; and they are well connected to lots of golf stores so that’s very important to us because you have to be in the right places.
We have our own retail business as well as our wholesale business. In the retail business in Spain we have three stores: in Marbella, Sotogrande and Palma de Mallorca. In wholesale we work with a lot of golf stores, a lot of pro shops, and Holiday Golf work with buyers everywhere. Our cooperation with golf stores is important when it comes to merchandising, replenishment and delivery, and at the end of the season we exchange some of the goods that are unsold against new goods, and the unsold goods will then go into a factory outlet somewhere in Europe. This whole system, which maximises profit and available space, is what makes us successful in our wholesale business, and Holiday Golf understands that and supports it.
We don’t work together with every possible golf store in Spain. We work with about 50 different ones because the stores have to have a certain quality – that’s important. Adriana Arreytunandia has been our store manager here (in Marbella) for eight years – it’s a fantastic store – and she is now area manager for the three Spanish stores and a Golfino store in the Algarve. We have further plans for expansion, including a re-fitting of the Sotogrande store. So we are investing quite a lot into the Spanish market.