Jill Spiegel has been promoted to President of PGA TOUR Superstore, a move that positions her as one of the most influential women in the golf industry.
A longtime head of merchandising for the leading golf retailer, Spiegel has worked at Superstore since 2011. She is assuming greater control of the day-to-day operations of the business from Dick Sullivan, who adds the title of Executive Chairman to his role as CEO and will focus on forward growth strategies.
Spiegel was previously senior vice president and director of merchandising for Superstore, meaning she oversaw all merchandising as well as financial planning at the site level. She now takes control of operations and planning for Superstore’s 54 U.S. locations as well as e-commerce, marketing and construction. Here’s some of what Spiegel had to say about whether to take on what PGATSS owner and president Arthur Blank calls “business-critical day-to-day operations”:
You’re a 37-year veteran in the retail industry, but are you excited for what’s to come – for you and for PGA Tour SuperStore?
“When Dick hired me 11 years ago, we had just opened store 11. We are at 54 today, 58 in the next few months and 70 by the end of the year. Being part of the growth over the past decade, especially the past three years, has been really fun and rewarding. When I came here, there were 30 people in the store support center and now we have over 150. So we’ve really built a foundation; not just me, but Dick and the management team. We’re at a point where we can handle that growth and open all those stores. It was wonderful. To get the promotion, I’m very excited about it. And we are still in growth mode. We are not slowing down, if anything, this growth will accelerate even more. I look forward to taking on a greater leadership role as we continue this growth.
Golf has diversified its participant base, especially among women, and we’re also seeing more C-suite members rank among golf companies. What is the importance of this promotion, which puts you in very select company in the sport?
“If you look at my background, I was in the big stores (including Belk and Macy’s), which is really feminine. When I came here, I was the only woman on the management team for quite a long time. This has never been a problem for me and I haven’t been treated any differently The manufacturing side (of golf) is much more male dominated so it took some getting used to. was actually a plus for me in the beginning – I felt like I was bringing a different perspective to the table. And now there’s been a lot of change over the past decade. There’s another woman in the leadership team (PGATSS) We have a lot of women in leadership roles in our business and if you look at the makeup of our in-store support center, we’re almost 50/50 between men and women. There have been a lot of really good changes and a lot of positive momentum for women in these industries to male predominance. It’s really nice to see and it makes this promotion extremely meaningful. There aren’t many female leaders in the golf industry, in general.
Being heavily involved in marketing, you have seen and helped drive some of the notable developments in golf. What do you think are the biggest changes on the retail front?
“There were a lot of them. Our core brands will still make up the lion’s share of the business. But I have very good clothing merchants with the same kind of experience as me. They are always on the lookout for new brands. I remember when we first tried Under Armor and they went from #8 brand to #1 in just a few years. Jordan Spieth has something to do with it. But you never know what the next big brand will be. Printed polo shirts have been a big trend in recent years. We’re not so big we can’t test things and as soon as we get traction we really max it out. We see a lot of brands in our store like Bad Birdie, William Murray, Chubbies, and our clothing store was one of the very first to adopt shorter inseams. We sell 7 inch shorts for men and who would have thought that? Several years ago, everything was up to the knee. She wore hoodies and she wore joggers. That’s the fun part of it. It’s become much more laid back and you’ll even see it on the course. Outside of clothing, there’s a lot of technology, and you hear more music on golf courses. We sell a lot of (Bushnell) Wingman speakers and all those fun gadgets. In general, there is so much awareness around the sport and not only seeing women and young people, but also young adults. It’s a “cool sport” right now. Hopefully this will continue. »
Golf is a lifestyle activity and those who are truly passionate or committed play and spend like no other participation sport. What has this opportunity meant as golf has experienced a real renaissance in recent years?
“We’re comparing everything to 2019 (pre-Covid), and we’ll be up over 90% (in 2022 revenue) from 2019. Everyone went into 2022 holding their breath because we had such significant growth in two years. We did more business in the first half of 2021 than we did throughout fiscal 2019, which is pretty staggering to think about. But you’ve seen a lot of retailers outside of golf giving 20-25% back and we haven’t seen that. The fact that rounds (played) are hanging on to a 20% increase just shows that the sport isn’t slowing down.
How do you see the separation between physical retail and the company’s online presence?
“Our electronic communications business has tripled from 2019 to 2021. What’s great to see in 2022 is that it’s contracting a bit. Our physical activity is really healthy and it’s great to see people coming back to the stores. We are also very focused on e-commerce and we want to grow that channel, but we don’t want to grow for the sake of our physical store. We want that customer to come and experience our fit abilities, take lessons, putt on our greens, hit in our hitting bays. So that’s a huge priority, but we don’t want to move that business from brick and mortar. We want our e-commerce growth to be gradual.
Where would you like to see PGA Tour Superstore in five years?
“We will continue to grow. We opened three stores in the middle of Covid. We continued to put our foot on the accelerator. We have taken advantage of real estate opportunities in recent years and will continue to do so. We know there is still a lot of white space. The eight stores that we are going to open this year are in new markets: Charlotte, greater DC, Philadelphia, Fairfax in Virginia, Milwaukee. We’re opening stores in Boise and Kansas City next year, and there are a lot of markets we haven’t visited. One of our goals is also to help grow the game of golf and when we enter new markets we don’t just steal market share from our competitors. Yes, we might get some of their business, but we take the whole market. It’s nice to see that it’s not just a change from one retailer to another, it’s really bringing more awareness to the sport.