2005: Wilson back in black as Staff relaunch commences

Last year, Angus Moir, global business director for Wilson Golf, talked about 2004 being a time to “steady the ship” and return the struggling equipment maker to profitability. Now, he can speak about having achieved that goal.

With the Feb. 3 release of financial for the subsidiary of the Helsinki, Finland-based Amer Group, his company is back in the black.

Wilson Golf reported earnings before taxes (EBIT) last year of $630,000, compared with a loss

of $15.6 million for 2003. The Chicago-based golf division posted net sales of $186.1 million, down from $196.7 million.

Financial results were reported in euros and converted to dollars based on a conversion rate of 1.26, the average for the fiscal year.

“The golf division achieved its objective for 2004,” said Roger Talermo, Amer’s chief executive. “Profitability was improved by the reorganization of Wilson in the United States, a process that got under way in 2003, and by the related realignment of its cost structure to better match business operations.”

Added Moir: “We did well to improve our bottom line by $15 million while more or less maintaining our sales level in a very challenging business environment.

We have also launched our new Wilson Staff balls and clubs to the media and our retail partners, and are starting to ship them to consumers. The hope is that we can get people to buy more of our premium products in the process and improve the bottom line even further.

“What this past year has done is brought the company up to base camp. For 2005, we have to work to get a bit further up the mountain.”

Moir said he will have to do that with only a slight increase in spending on advertising and marketing.

“It makes the challenge tougher, but the reality is not how much you spend but how you spend it,” he said. “We are allocating our money in different places in an effort to make that spend as efficient as possible.”

Overall, Amer Group, which also makes Atomic skis, Wilson tennis rackets and Suunto wristop computers and diving instruments, saw its net sales for 2004 decline slightly, to $1.3 billion from $1.4 billion, but its gross profit climbed to $552.6 million from $530.2 million. EBIT rose to $153.7 million from $148.3 million.

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