By  on July 23, 2007

NEW YORK — Dockers is introducing a new tiered-label strategy for its golf business for spring ’08, with the revamping of its top-tier Dockers Tour line and the introduction of a Dockers Premium Golf label, which sits just above the core Dockers Golf brand. The initiatives are part of a renewed focus on the golf category, as part of the company’s “four wearing occasions” marketing and merchandising strategy that was launched last year. (The four occasions are work, weekend, dress and golf.)

“Golf is such an important part of our guy’s leisure time,” said Jim Tibbs, senior vice-president of men’s merchandising, design and brand licensing at Dockers. “It’s really an extension of his wardrobe and we have head-to-toe assortments of bottoms, knit tops, layering pieces, vests, jackets, belts, caps and socks.”

Dockers Golf sales should increase 30 percent this year and will account for about 10 percent of the total Dockers U.S. business, according to Tibbs, including 25 percent of tops sales. For the first half of this year, the Dockers brand worldwide rang up about $443 million of parent company Levis Strauss & Co.’s total net sales of $2.01 billion.

The new Dockers Premium Golf label will offer better-quality fabrics and a younger, more contemporary look with slightly slimmer fits than the core Dockers Golf range. Suggested retail prices in the new collection range from $42 to $70, compared to $36 to $55 for Dockers Golf. The key accounts for both lines are Macy’s and J.C. Penney.

“Dockers Premium Golf builds on the foundation we’ve established, and addresses the needs of a consumer we’re not really addressing now,” explained Tibbs. “We’re offering enhanced performance—like a new Championship Pant made from Cocona—and updated styles with new details. It’s all part of a ‘good, better, best’ strategy for our golf business.”

The Dockers Tour collection, priced from $60 to $145, is aimed at serious golfers, and the company is positioning it to compete with brands like Nike, Adidas and Callaway. “This is our more authentic, performance-oriented brand,” noted Jim Clopton, vice-president of sales at Dockers.

The Dockers Tour brand was previously licensed to Newport Sportswear, and Dockers decided to bring the business in-house as part of its renewed focus on the golf market. While licensed, Dockers Tour was sold in green-grass shops, but Dockers is still deciding what distribution channels to target for the line’s relaunch next spring.

Licenses that remain in the Dockers Golf portfolio are Perry Ellis International for outerwear, Royce Hosiery for socks, Randa for belts and leather goods, and Northern Cap for headwear. These four licensees will add new products for the Dockers Tour and Dockers Premium Golf lines.

Earlier this year Dockers signed pro golfer Arron Oberholser to a three-year sponsorship agreement. He wears mostly Dockers Tour product on the PGA Tour—including a new super 100s wool golf pant—and provides design and performance specifications to the brand’s designers. He is also featured in online, point-of-sale and print marketing materials, including a campaign that has run in Golf, Golf Digest, Men’s Health, GQ and Esquire.

To further raise the visibility of its Dockers Golf brand, the company has sponsored two televised tournaments this year: the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February, and the Michael Douglas and Friends Celebrity Golf Tournament in June.

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