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April 2006

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The Secret of Desnics’ Success

  • McLaren strongly believes that a retailer must offer as wide a selection of brands as possible — and be prepared to phone or email immediately if you do not have what your customer wants.

  • A retailer needs to keep abreast of new products and technological developments and it is therefore very important to have good relationships with the suppliers’ representatives so that they keep you up-to-date with product developments.

  • Experienced sales staff who know their sports and products and can therefore advise customers, is the big advantage an independent retailer has over chain stores.

  • They try to offer a very good price point – and advertise the fact that they will match any cheaper price – although Desnics is not a "discount store".

  • Be aware of changes in the community and adapt accordingly – they therefore added surfwear, lifestyle footwear and clothing to their stock mix and market to the black and coloured schools that are offering more and more sporting codes to their learners.

  • A family store that serves the whole community

    Desnics Planet Sport in Kimberley gives a new meaning to the concept of family business. Apart from the father and sons team as directors, all nine staff members have been with the company for so long that they are considered to be part of the family, says the fourth director Keith McLaren

    Another thing that sets them apart is the fact that the four directors have been awarded provincial colours eleven times and one, Shane Schonegevel, was goal keeper for the SA national hockey team.

    Co-founder Des Schonegevel played hockey and cricket for the Free State and Griquas. He started the business more than forty years ago with his partner Nic Fourie — hence Desnic. After Nic retired due to ill health, Des ran the business on his own for a few years, before McLaren joined him as director.

    Des is still very much involved in the company and sport and even though he is past seventy, he and his wife still participate in tennis tournaments.

    McLaren joined about fourteen years ago, with previous experience as partner in Pope Sport and as accountant for the De Beers mining company, where his frequent absences when representing his province, Griquas in five sports (cricket, hockey, soccer, tennis and badminton) elicited some comment.

    Des’ sons Shane and Wayne were both teachers and both have provincial colours in cricket and hockey. About ten years ago Wayne decided to join the company to manage the wholesale division, selling their popular OBO hockey protective range and Gryphon hockey into retail.

    Shane managed Radical Sport in Port Elizabeth, which they ran as a branch, until the mall was revamped and they decided to close the store about seven years ago. He then joined his brother in the wholesale division – where they added Sunridges cricket and the unique OBO cricket protective products.

    "We run the wholesale division completely separate from the retail store," says McLaren, who is in charge of the day-to-day running of the store. "We are treated the same as all their other retail customers."

    About seven years ago Desnics Planet Sport bought the distinctive building, a former steakhouse, where they now display a vast selection of sports products from just about every brand. Choosing products can be a huge risk, acknowledges McLaren, "because if you choose wrong, you are left holding a lemon." They stock products for between 20 – 30 sports, and in most sports try and offer as wide a selection as possible. They are therefore prepared when any school, team or casual passerby comes looking for any conceivable product.

    "To buy fashion you need to keep up with the latest trends," he says, and there he relies on magazines and the younger staff members for guidance. And, even though Kimberley is very far from any waves, that means knowing what is the latest trend in surfwear. Footwear is very difficult to buy, he says, because there are so many brands and styles - and it is so important to get it right. Nowadays, more and more customers come looking for a nice looking casualwear shoe, instead of a sport-specific technical shoe, although the latter is still the bulk of their business. But, while a customer might come in to buy a sport specific shoe, he often leaves with a casual/lifestyle shoe that caught his fancy as well.

    In equipment he trusts the top brands, and because he has a trusted relationship with certain representatives, he often relies on their recommendations. Apart from that, years’ experience has given him an instinctive feel for what will sell.


    Feb/ Mar 2009

    A city of tents for the viewing

    Tent City appeals to their customers’ senses by providing a platform to see, touch and feel the products — something which you cannot get by browsing through a catalogue

    Tent City was started by the partners of Tentco during the first half of 2008. They felt that there was a need for consumers to see a large range of pitched tents instead of having to buy from catalogues or descriptions from retailers.

    Werner Page, who runs the 1340m2 facility next to the N12 highway in Jetpark in Johannesburg, says that customers driving by can clearly see their facility. They did not have to spend a lot of money advertising it.

    The size of the facility, which includes a mezzanine floor, allows them the opportunity of pitching their full range of tents — from small, medium and large bow, hexibow and combination tents, through rooftop tents and gazebos to their range of large bush campers aimed at the luxury Safari Lodge Concerns as well as Tour Operators. Customers can come in to view and touch the tents and see the sizes, folded and pitched.

    They realised that they can also offer customers other types of camping products and are stocking a wide range of these products from various brands. The store has developed into a destination store where people can come and browse to find the latest camping products on the market, while the rest of the family can do the same or enjoy a cup of coffee in their reception area.

    This facility also acts as a showroom for retailers buying from Tentco.


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