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View from the industry
Keeping tensions high
Jeremy Holt is director of racket string and accessories supplier
Apollo Leisure, and here he explains why the trade of racket re-
stringing has shown resilience in the recession
A
pollo Leisure supplies spare parts for

Having re-strung a
genuine racket specialists there will be
racket sports, such as strings, grips considerably less outlets than that. Our
and accessories, and for us 2009 was
racket, hopefully the
products also go to club shops, which are
a good year. We are the type of business
retailer can then rely
doing quite well in places, particularly the big
that can prosper during a recession because clubs such as David Lloyd, which all offer re-
when people err against splashing out on a
new racket, they might consider a re-string,
on customers to
stringing.
The margins for re-stringing for the retailer
a new grip and perhaps a new grommet
return to them for all
should be very good. If you take the base price
strip – at the fraction of the cost of a new
racket they end up with a fully serviced, their tennis, squash
for a set of racket strings as £5, a retailer could
be charging £20 for the re-stringing service.
revitalised racket.
or badminton
Obviously there is a labour element to consider,
and the initial capital cost of setting up with a
Competing for attention
requirements in the
stringing machine is quite high, but what we
Our business for the three racket sports tends
to be year-round, although there is a
future
always remind retailers is that if they are
concentration of squash and badminton business
from September to March, and in Spring the kind of bonus market for the te

offering a re-stringing service it brings
customers into their shops on a regular basis;
nnis trade, as a dropping off rackets, collecting, and seeing
tennis market really kicks in. lot of casual tennis players come out and play other products in the shop. Staff training is a
Looking ahead to this tennis season, 2010 tennis for a few weeks, whereas the more relatively minor outlay, and having re-strung a
might in fact be a more difficult year than committed club players will continue playing racket, hopefully the retailer can then rely on
2009 because of the competition for attention more or less throughout the year. Wimbledon customers to return to them for all their tennis,
posed by the football World Cup. opens a window of opportunity for the tennis squash or badminton requirements in the
Looking at our past sales records, in those trade, but the better England does in the World future. Re-stringing and servicing rackets is an
summers when we have had either a World Cup, the less people will be playing tennis. excellent way of generating customer loyalty -
Cup or European Championship, sales have it illustrates the customer service and expertise
definitely been affected around June and going Stringing for profit of the retailer.
into July, with even the Wimbledon Most of our re-stringing business is through The other advantage to retailers is that they
Championships taking something of a back independent retailers, but then in the years do not have to buy in large amounts of stock,
seat when England is contending. Apollo Leisure has been in business, the as companies such as Apollo offer a next-day
Wimbledon generally energises the tennis number of independents has diminished from delivery service for orders placed before 3pm.
S
playing masses. The surge in tennis somewhere in excess of 3,000 in the UK, to
participation during and after Wimbledon is a probably under 1,000, and in terms of the www.apolloleisure.co.uk
The Wimbledon strings section
The 2009 Wimbledon Championships saw Apollo Leisure make its debut as the official re-stringing
contractor. It was a three-week commitment, taking in the qualifying week at Roehampton prior to
Wimbledon fortnight itself, with the Apollo team stringing from a port-a-cabin next to the practice courts.
“It was quite hectic, particularly during the first week of Wimbledon,” says Holt. “The variations of
tensions and individual racket requirements are massive. Last year we strung 2,316 rackets over three
weeks, which was a new Wimbledon record, and on our busiest day we strung 286 rackets.”
That busiest day was the first Monday of Wimbledon, and over the three-week period Apollo put to
work a team of 20 stringers, seven support staff and five runners, who were employed to deliver rackets
to the dressing rooms and even courtside, when emergency re-strings were required. The most rackets re-
strung in a day by one stringer was 44, and there were days when stringers worked past midnight.
Serena Williams had the most frames strung for any one player; 55. Jurgen Melzer from Austria
requested the highest tension at 33 kgs/73 lbs, and the lowest tension was 16 kgs/35 lbs for Peter
Calm before the
storm: Apollo
Luczak of Poland.
Leisure’s Wimbledon
Apollo Leisure will be back at Wimbledon in 2010. re-stringing centre
16 SGB SPORT MARCH 2010
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