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PostSubject: finally an answer to fans of golfer network...   Sat Dec 12, 2009 9:21 pm

Published December 12, 2009

'Mega deals' golf retailer gets hit out-of-bounds
Golfers' Network, known for selling cut-price equipment, falls victim to credit crunch


By VEN SREENIVASAN

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BY THIS time every year, golfers around Singapore would be making a beeline for Harbourfront Mall for the Great Golfers' Network Sale, where equipment, apparel and accessories could be had at a fraction of their normal price and the queue last year stretched beyond the building.



MR PILLAI
The 47-year-old entrepreneur is well known for supporting youth golf and numerous golf-related community initiatives
But not anymore.

The retail chain which grew rapidly over the past 10 years to dominate the golf equipment market in Singapore - much to the dismay of more established industry cohorts - has collapsed, a casualty of the global credit crunch.

The chain, founded and operated by 47-year-old entrepreneur Sasi Kumar Pillai, was shuttered in August after its creditor banks and suppliers pulled the plug.

Mr Pillai, who was well known for supporting youth golf and numerous golf-related community initiatives, could not be contacted and is believed to be overseas.

But a source familiar with the company said that Golfers' Network had expanded too rapidly over the past decade, and was weighed down by debt of some $30 million. Then, came the 2008 financial meltdown.

'Banks and suppliers became nervous after the Lehman Brothers collapse,' said a source who was close to the company. 'Everyone was watching everyone else. So when one creditor pulls back a line, others follow suit. Suppliers panic as well.'

It is understood that the franchise banked with half a dozen financial institutions, including at least two of the three local banks. They declined to comment, citing banking confidentiality, but a spokesman at one bank which had extended substantial credit facilities denied that it had been hasty in pulling back support.

'It is in banks' interest to support businesses and grow with them. When a decision is made to recall or reduce credit, it is usually because a situation warrants caution.'

The 'situation', in this case, could have been the high gearing of a fast growing business at a time when the global financial system was facing systemic risks.

Golfers' Network distributed over a dozen brands, including TaylorMade, Akira, Titleist, Cobra, Dunlop, and Slazenger. It also owned the Lynx brand and had the licence to manufacture Dunlop equipment in Asia. It had grown from just one store a decade ago, to 11 outlets by late last year.

The chain was especially popular in the golfing fraternity for giving the biggest and best discounts on equipment and accessories. For example, a newly launched TaylorMade golf driver could be discounted by as much as 50 per cent compared to competing shops.

Understandably, this did not endear Mr Pillai and his company to rivals, many of whom found themselves losing customers to Golfers' Network.

But the strategy enabled Golfers' Network to engage in massive volume selling, and in the case of TaylorMade, made it the brand's largest retailer with sales crossing $5 million annually. It also attracted many banks which were eager to lend to a fast-growing business.

But Golfers' Network's strategy of gaining marketshare at the expense of margins could have backfired as the economy turned sour and retail appetite became cautious. And having expanded rapidly, it was weighed down by hefty overheads, including rising rentals.

Its islandwide chain of stores and its headquarters-cum-warehouse at Henderson industrial estate are now closed.

Also a casualty was Sports Network, Golfers' Network's parent company, which dealt with other sports and lifestyle products.

This business included the regional franchises for Quiksilver beach gear and Lansdale boxing gear. All seven Quiksilver stores and four Lansdale outlets here have disappeared. It is understood that the regional franchises controlled by Mr Pillai were also similarly affected.

But some who are familiar with Mr Pillai's business insist that his franchise could have survived if banks and suppliers had taken a long-term view of the business.

'Gearing is quite normal in businesses like these, and he could have restructured and paid back most of the debt in about two or three years,' insisted one former employee, who also added that Mr Pillai paid salaries to all his employees before closing his shops.

And many believe that the ex-Sembawang boy, who started out in the 1980s working for a sports equipment distributorship, will make a comeback.

'Sasi is an entrepreneur who learnt his trade at the school of hard knocks,' said one friend. 'He's bounced back before, and he'll bounce back again.'
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Technospaz
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PostSubject: Re: finally an answer to fans of golfer network...   Sat Dec 12, 2009 9:28 pm

Thanks for the news, golfer. This answers some questions.

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botak
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PostSubject: Re: finally an answer to fans of golfer network...   Sat Dec 12, 2009 10:18 pm

Technospaz wrote:
Thanks for the news, golfer. This answers some questions.

Does not answer the big question of "Which other shop has equally cheap stuff?"
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PostSubject: Re: finally an answer to fans of golfer network...   Sat Dec 12, 2009 10:48 pm

botak wrote:
Technospaz wrote:
Thanks for the news, golfer. This answers some questions.

Does not answer the big question of "Which other shop has equally cheap stuff?"

Mate, you've missed the crazy PW sale Smile

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botak
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PostSubject: Re: finally an answer to fans of golfer network...   Sat Dec 12, 2009 10:52 pm

Technospaz wrote:
botak wrote:
Technospaz wrote:
Thanks for the news, golfer. This answers some questions.

Does not answer the big question of "Which other shop has equally cheap stuff?"

Mate, you've missed the crazy PW sale Smile

I know! I've been living out of my suitcase the past 1.5 months. Tonite back in SG, tomorrow morning out again.

How's your Xmas present? santa
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Technospaz
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PostSubject: Re: finally an answer to fans of golfer network...   Sat Dec 12, 2009 11:08 pm

botak wrote:
Technospaz wrote:
botak wrote:
Technospaz wrote:
Thanks for the news, golfer. This answers some questions.

Does not answer the big question of "Which other shop has equally cheap stuff?"

Mate, you've missed the crazy PW sale Smile

I know! I've been living out of my suitcase the past 1.5 months. Tonite back in SG, tomorrow morning out again.

How's your Xmas present? santa

I haven't had time to take it out for a run. Aside from a range-visit a week ago, it's been sitting quietly in the bag. Will be playing this week though and I'm worried cause I've not had a chance to run the clubs in enough. Oh well Smile

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jtek
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PostSubject: Re: finally an answer to fans of golfer network...   Sun Dec 13, 2009 12:29 am

So sad... a great golf shopping chain gone...

I really hope he will come back and bring joy to poor golfer like myself!!! ha ha ha...
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mUAr_cHEe
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PostSubject: Re: finally an answer to fans of golfer network...   Sun Dec 13, 2009 9:28 am

where was this article from?
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golfer
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PostSubject: Re: finally an answer to fans of golfer network...   Mon Dec 14, 2009 11:03 am

mUAr_cHEe wrote:
where was this article from?
businesstimes
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pocketace
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PostSubject: Re: finally an answer to fans of golfer network...   Mon Dec 14, 2009 2:04 pm

Thanks for posting this.
I think we need to read articles like this with a pinch of salt... clearly the other SG players in golf retail are elated, to say the least, with the demise of GN

Ppl often challenge in the past on how can GN make $ on such low margins?
Was TM really happy that TM sales made up $5m p.a.? If you are TM, how do you address the concerns of other TM retailers seeing GN undercut the market?

Coincidentally, before the final days of GN, one TM retail staff told us, GN will not get their TM authorised dealers license renewed in the near future. And I paid extra attention to look at all TM advertisements after that, and noticed that GN was removed from all the list of TM authorised distributors (before GN went bust). Then soon after, GN went out of biz... hmm... Nostradamus at work???

Dun get me wrong, I dun work in the industry, just piecing things together for myself. I could be entirely wrong. All I know, we lose out for not having the Harbour Front golf sale now... Crying or Very sad
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mUAr_cHEe
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PostSubject: Re: finally an answer to fans of golfer network...   Mon Dec 14, 2009 2:27 pm

golfer wrote:
businesstimes

Noted and Happy Holidays!
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colin2011
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PostSubject: Re: finally an answer to fans of golfer network...   Mon Dec 14, 2009 2:32 pm

pocketace wrote:
Thanks for posting this.
I think we need to read articles like this with a pinch of salt... clearly the other SG players in golf retail are elated, to say the least, with the demise of GN

Ppl often challenge in the past on how can GN make $ on such low margins?
Was TM really happy that TM sales made up $5m p.a.? If you are TM, how do you address the concerns of other TM retailers seeing GN undercut the market?

Coincidentally, before the final days of GN, one TM retail staff told us, GN will not get their TM authorised dealers license renewed in the near future. And I paid extra attention to look at all TM advertisements after that, and noticed that GN was removed from all the list of TM authorised distributors (before GN went bust). Then soon after, GN went out of biz... hmm... Nostradamus at work???

Dun get me wrong, I dun work in the industry, just piecing things together for myself. I could be entirely wrong. All I know, we lose out for not having the Harbour Front golf sale now... Crying or Very sad

salesguys at MST outlets also "talking" abt GN.....
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PostSubject: Re: finally an answer to fans of golfer network...   Mon Dec 14, 2009 2:49 pm

What is important here is that we do not speculate too much about what has happened. It is unfortunate that GN closed down but there are possibly a myriad of factors which caused that to happen, many of which are likely to be confidential. So, let's not jump to conclusions. Instead, let's focus on the other stores out there who have good offers Smile

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mUAr_cHEe
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PostSubject: Re: finally an answer to fans of golfer network...   Mon Dec 14, 2009 2:51 pm

Technospaz wrote:
Instead, let's focus on the other stores out there who have good offers Smile

Daiso!!!

and happy holidays.
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PostSubject: Re: finally an answer to fans of golfer network...   Today at 4:09 am

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