We like Springcourt. So, despite the current trend for running sneakers (we like those too), we still wanted a pair of Springcourts. To our surprise, they went AWOL for a while, leading us to fear the worst. Then they suddenly popped up again, with slight changes made to the shape and minty smell. So, what happened? It turns out that the Royer Group got hold of the brand in 2012 and have been subtly updating the trainer since then. We spoke to The Royer Group’s Judy Gueffen to find out more about what happened, their plans and why the trainers no longer smell like a packet of Wrigleys. Read the Q&A after the jump.
What interested Royer Group in Springcourt?
The fact that Groupe Royer is French and the brand is French with such a unique heritage.
How do you plan to utilize Springcourt’s heritage?
Firstly, to maximise awareness that in 1936, Springcourt was the first sport shoe designed to play tennis on clay courts, incorporating a ‘ventilated’ system in the outsole and insole. To try to reach the end customer, we made a special mini collection with the clay court codes which was promoted online with video clips on brand saga. This was featured during the period of the paris tournament - Roland Garros. It was important to alert the public to the brand’s origins and commercially the project was a complete success.
What are some of the changes you’ve made to the trainer (i.e. taking out the minty smell of the insole, etc.)?
The minty smell was fine in just one pair of shoes, but in an entire shoe store it was a bit overpowering. We also had worries about the chemical aspect of this minty smell. However, continuity of this heritage product was our prime obsession. As we needed to invest and remake all the moulds and put in place the industrial plant, we decided to take the opportunity to make some improvements. We made the shoe lighter and more flexible, while maintaing a 100% rubber sole and the ventilated system. For ladies,the shoe was previously on a small men’s last and the echo from the market place was that it created an obstacle to sales in-store. We decided to invest in a true ladies’ fitting last. Not an easy task, as we needed to slim down the fit. [It made the trainer] have a more feminine look whilst maintaining the spirit of the heritage product. The men’s toe shape is only slightly modified.
What are some changes you’ve made to the range as a whole?
I think the size of the collection has been slightly smaller. [This was] intentional as we needed to establish our path. Of course, the heritage G2 and B2 tennis are at the heart of the collection and have both permanent colors and season colors. The thematic versions which vary from season to season depending on current trends.
Why the introduction of clothing?
The owners of the brand wanted to introduce a clothing line – a long time wish but this is not a project that Groupe Royer are involved in.
Is there a worry that the brand might be spread too thin now?
I think not. We have maintained the business in France and expanded into European countries where the brand was not present. Outside Europe we are present in Japan and Australia with new opportunities for the USA and other Asian markets. In France, the change of licence usage was viewed with some hesitation. Retailers wanted to see what the product looked like before committing. It seems that now we have their confidence. For Japan, we worked hand in hand with our distributor to ensure their cult business.
Are there plans for more collaborations?
Absolutely. We have collaborations for Summer 2014 with Jacquemus, Melinda Gloss, Kitsune and Petit Bateau, with others in the pipeline for Winter 2014. In Japan, we have four or five different anniversary and special edition exclusive products in for certain stores.
Any plans to make the online shop easier for international shoppers?
The owners of the brand are in control of the e-shop so I do hope this will quickly be resolved.
What are the plans for Springcourt in the future?
To build on the solid roots of the brand and to develop spring court into a fully fledged lifestyle brand. This will take time but we are committed longterm to this project.
Jason Dike is a london based writer who’s contributed to the likes of Esquire UK and Men’s Health amongst other publications. He has a highly entertaining (his own words), but sporadically updated (our words) website at jasondike.co.uk and you can follow him on twitter at @jasondike.