After a prosperous 2013, this season is shaping up to be a busy year for HEAD. The new Graphene Radical and Graphene Prestige rackets were launched in January, alongside player endorsed footwear and sportswear, and later in 2014 the Austrian company will unveil new Graphene Extreme models as well as Wimbledon, Maria Sharapova RED and Andy Murray bags.
According to Andy Catchpole, HEAD’s Racketsports Category Manager, July 2013 was the best ever month for racketsports, so there’s a lot to play for this summer. “We had to bring in extra stock from all over Europe to cope with the demand on specific lines,” Catchpole told TIA UK News. “The momentum created in the first half of the year fed into positive results in the latter half of 2013 and there has been a positive start to 2014.”
It is too early to tell if the poor weather at the start of this year has affected sales of tennis kit in general, but Catchpole says the initial sell-in period has gone very well for HEAD. “We are actually oversold on some key lines already,” he said, “This is a very different picture from what may be happening on the high street or internet as sell out is more affected by the weather.”
At the end of 2013, HEAD unveiled to selected European media their new Custom Made racket service, which was launched to the consumer in December. This is the first step in a bid to bridge the gap between the re-engineered frames used by the likes of Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic and the Austrian brand’s standard stock.
Currently based around their best-selling Graphene Speed line, HEAD’s web-based service offers a range of dimensional changes and optional extras. Everything from the length, weight, balance, string pattern and grip shape of the existing frames can be altered, with additional touches such as the type of grip, strings and tensions and even the colour of the frame. Frames cost around £300, but with the promise of being made by the engineers who fashion the rackets of the pros, the consumer is being offered a bespoke service second to none.
Catchpole says it is too early to say how sales of Custom Made rackets have gone, however, it is part of an exciting brand offering from HEAD that will push it forward in 2014 which will include, as he says “lots and lots of stuff on digital media, as usual.”
With so many interesting developments in racket technologies it’s great news for consumers and for the industry that there is so much to talk about when it comes to rackets.