International Leisure Group announces American Golf’s best year in trading history

Published 21 Feb 2022

International Leisure Group (ILG) Ltd*, owner of American Golf, has reported a record year in the company’s 52 year history, with total sales topping £166m for financial year ending 30th January 2022, up 43.8% compared to the previous 12 months.

EBITDA before exceptional costs for the financial year was £12.8m, marking a significant swing from £1.6m in 2021. The figures represent a remarkable turn-around for the business, which was losing £3.9m (FY19 EBITDA) when it was acquired by private equity investor Endless LLP in October 2018.

The business bucked UK retail trends with sales in bricks and mortar stores outstripping ecommerce sales by more than 2-to-1. Over £108.5m was generated via physical retail sales, compared to £44.1m spent online.

The remainder of sales were driven by ILG’s expansion into golf ranges, as well as the company’s International Leisure Brands division, which includes leading Germany-based golf fashion brand Golfino, which the business has recently bolstered by signing Germany’s Golfer of the Year and German National Team pro golfer, Esther Henseleit, who will be endorsing Golfino clothing and footwear.

American Golf now has 95 bricks and mortar stores in the UK and Ireland, as well as a buoyant ecommerce operation. According to Golf Datatech market share analysis, the retailer dominated in 2021, taking a 31.4% share of the UK golf market, with clothing alone commanding a 56.1% share in December 2021.

A £6m investment programme during the next 12 months will create 50 new jobs in the UK, taking the Group’s total employees to over 1,000. This will involve the procurement of Golf Kingdom located in Chadwell Heath, Essex, five new site acquisitions and the refurbishment of 17 existing stores. ILG is planning to add 30 new leisure sites to its portfolio by the end of 2027, consisting of stores, golf ranges, food and beverage and adventure golf offerings.

Last year saw ILG invest in technology-driven store refurbishments including Greater Manchester’s flagship American Golf store in Trafford. The company also made its first leisure acquisitions of entire golf courses, including Cheshire’s High Legh Golf Club, Cambridgeshire’s Hemingford Abbots Golf Club and Lancashire’s Rossendale Golf Centre, where adventure golf and the company’s family-friendly Il Corso Italian-American dining concept is being rolled out, to appeal to families.

American Golf’s own equipment, apparel and footwear brands, including Benross, Rife, Fazer and Stromberg are also proving popular with all levels of golfer, with Stromberg having risen to the number two brand in the UK.

Gary Favell, CEO of ILG and American Golf, says: “We’ve taken what was an ordinary golf retailer and reimagined the user experience to create immersive, technologically-advanced environments that everyone can enjoy – men, women and children of all ages, backgrounds and abilities – we’ve made the sport accessible to all. Couple this with a lively acquisition strategy, of strong, multi-category golf brands and golf courses, and the result is year-on-year double-digit growth since 2019 and a leading market share.”

Gifting in stores and online was also a big revenue generator for the company, with over £8.8m worth of gift vouchers and e-gift cards purchased during the last financial year.

American Golf’s drive to make golf more accessible and inclusive has been well-documented and is demonstrated by partnerships with world number one disability golfer, Brendan Lawlor; LET & LPGA pro, Carly Booth and support of the HANDA World Invitational event, which sees male and female golfers compete for equal prize funds and sponsorship of the Rose Ladies Series.