Dunlop Germany, a subsidiary of Dunlop Slazenger that sells Dunlop racquets and balls, has obtained a deal to distribute Dunlop sports shoes and apparel in the Germanic markets and the Benelux countries, after it lost another such agreement with K-Swiss. The German distribution of Dunlop tennis shoes was previously in the hands of Marco, the company that holds the brand’s footwear license around the world except for Australia and Japan.
While Dunlop Germany will now sell the full package of Dunlop performance products, Marco will place more emphasis on international distribution of its lifestyle footwear and apparel range. Until recently the Germanic countries and the UK were the only countries where Marco sold the lifestyle range on a large scale, but it has just recruited a flurry of agents to market its iconic Dunlop Greenflash models more widely. Over the last months it has sealed deals with agents in Italy, Spain, Portugal, France and Scandinavia, some of which already sold other Dunlop products. Earlier this year the Greenflash was launched in the USA by Core Distribution, the company owned by Bill Cohen and Frank Duffy, former Dr. Martens executives. Duffy recently left as international agent for an avant-garde English brand of footwear, Irregular Choice.
Marco launched a small range of Dunlop branded clothing earlier this year, having recruited Thomas Wentzel from Mäser as product manager. On the back of its strong business with Dunlop footwear, the German company’s license was recently renewed for 12 years and extended to apparel, which was previously sold in a few countries under sub-licenses. The last of these deals will expire in the Netherlands at the end of the year.
Most recently, the brand’s investments in apparel have prompted Dunlop to offer a hefty cash incentive for three British golfers it signed to 10-year endorsement deals. If any of them win the British Open or another major golf tournament for the duration of the contract, he will receive a bonus of £2 million (€2.9m-$3.7m). Dunlop believes that this amount is the largest cash prize ever awarded to a professional golfer.
Such moves appear to indicate that Sportsworld International, the sprawling retail and wholesale group that acquired Dunlop three years ago, intends to thoroughly rebuild the brand. It previously gulped Donnay, another tennis brand, but it mostly uses it to move apparel sales in its own Sports World outlets. Tellingly, Marco is not delivering to Sports World stores.