In this business, you learn quickly that press releases usually don’t tell the entire story from behind the scenes and that reading between the lines is often required to analyze a situation, as long as it isn’t a blindfolded shot in the dark that would be misleading.
Last week, it was announced here that Mark Fletcher was leaving Fletcher Sport Brands, which he had served as president, to pursue other opportunities, a statement that immediately set off the radar since FSB is an entity that came out of a business run by his family for years.
If you recall a year ago, the Fletcher Leisure Group went into receivership, filed for bankruptcy and was ultimately purchased by Fame Jeans, also based in Montreal, a normal chain of events in such proceedings.
FSB continued through its first year of operation with Fletcher and his father aboard until Allan ran into health issues in May and took an understandable sick leave. On the other hand, when Mark departed last week, it was his call and it caught the industry off guard, leading to this blog that I wrote.
Actually, I spoke with Mark Fletcher last week after the announcement came out and he was diplomatic as he responded to questions, which I explained to his replacement Conrad Tappert here during a phone discussion on Monday, which was his first day in his new position.
You can read more on Tappert here.
The reason that I mention Mark Fletcher’s diplomacy is that everything I put in the previous blog was my opinion, based on knowing the Fletchers for decades. It caused quite a stir apparently, but I still stand by it.
As you’ll see when you read it, I said that Fletcher was likely leaving due to philosophical differences than to pursue other opportunities, although I’m quite sure he’s probably doing that as we speak after last week’s announcement.
The Fletchers don’t sit still for very long and I expect they will be looking at new ventures to take to their many contacts within the industry, including buyers, suppliers, licensees, media, etc.
Those golf-specific assets seemingly made the Fletchers invaluable to a company seeking to maintain a hold on the industry, which lends credence to some sort of difference of opinion between the Fletchers and FSB over pursuing other opportunities.
As I told Tappert, that opinion wasn’t a reflection on the company that Fletcher leaves behind. Only time will tell how successful FSB will be without the Fletchers, just as it is with any other business and I’m not going to go about making predictions without seeing business plans, etc.
That would be a shot in the dark on my part.
Tappert was in Ottawa for a buying show when I chatted with him on Monday morning and he said the company will continue its sponsorship of industry events such as golf tournaments and the annual PGA of Canada’s annual shindig during the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando.
I had wondered in the previous blog about the sponsorships and the future of Allan Fletcher, a 48-year veteran of the golf industry, will be with the company. Tappert said Fletcher had already left the company, but other reports say a deal has yet to be finalized.
Either way, Allan and Mark Fletcher will move on without the Sunice, AUR and Tommy Hilfiger brands and find something new. FSB will also make whatever moves it sees fit with those brands and the chips will fall where they may as both go in different directions.
Both sides of this story have made the wise decision to not get into a public feud and prefer to talk about what’s ahead of them rather than what’s behind them, but saying there was a difference of opinion isn’t about who’s right or who’s wrong, just that it happened.
Even if the press release doesn’t say so. Releases usually leave you with more questions than answers.