It’s all going to be about technology for Grays in the coming year.
The company has a new range of sticks ready for the 2017/2018 market. Continuous innovation has been at the heart of the Grays brand since 1855.
From the world-famous Karachi King to the introduction and development of the very latest in composite technology.
Grays latest Kinetic and Graphene models were put to goods use at the Olympics where more gold medals were won in Rio by Grays ambassadors than any other hockey brand.
The GX range remains a core foundation, while they have expanded the GR range in response to player feedback. After an extensive test period in both the lab and on pitch, they also have a full KN line-up.
Hugo Youngman, Grays international brand manager – hockey, said: “We have three very distinct technologies, kinetic, graphene and the composite sticks.
“Kinetic is really all about balance and agility. They are the lightest sticks we have, the most well-balanced. They also have graphene in them and are meant for the modern hockey player, 3D skills, all that kind of thing.
“Moving on from there to graphene. Most of the male internationals would use a graphene stick because they are the most powerful we produce.
“Maximum power and performance is how we have earmarked that technology.
“The GX are now the entry price point composite sticks and we’ve updated those with some interesting graphics for next year.”
The success of the gold-medal winning GB women’s Olympic team in Rio in a penalty shoot-out against Holland has been a boost to the sport. And Grays are well-placed to take advantage of an upsurge in interest at home and abroad.
Youngman said: “Two of the girls in the Great Britain team were using Kinetic sticks, Nicola White and Crista Cullen, which is great for us.
“We had four out of the winning team using our sticks. “I think it’s going to take a while for interest to pull through to sales. “So probably into next season.
“Also one of the reasons I joined the company is that we are now operating directly in the Dutch market whereas before we were operating through a distributor. So that has been great for customer feedback and for the business as well.
“I know for a fact that some of the club’s we are involved with have certainly seen massive over subscription in terms of juniors.
“So hopefully that kind of bubble of people participating will follow on in forthcoming years.”
Grays are growing their brand overseas and seeing encouraging business abroad.
Youngman said: “The UK is a very mature market for us. So we have seen some really good progress in Holland, Germany and Argentina. In South Africa ,where we have a large percentage of the market, we sponsor the national teams in clothing. So that’s a really big area for us as well.”
But Grays have not been able to fully escape the problems caused by last year’s Brexit vote. The subsequent fluctuations in Sterling following the vote to leave the EU have given rise to certain difficulties.
Youngman said: “Because we are a worldwide business, although a specialist one, it hasn’t affected us so much. But we have increased prices in the UK. So that has been a factor due to the eradication of the price of sterling. “It was an incredibly difficult decision but, unfortunately, you have to
make these business decisions.”
But looking further ahead, Grays are aiming to increase their business away from their worldrenowned sticks. Youngman said: “We have always been really well known for our sticks and now the objective is to get stronger in other areas of our business.
“Certainly in shoes and in bags as well. We are pretty strong in sticks, gloves and accessories but it is those other areas that we need to be better in.”