After 121 years in business, the Kookaburra brand is still flying high and a change at the top sees Brett Elliot
succeed his father Rob who is stepping back after more than 42 years with the company and 20 years as Group Managing Director.
Changeover day was July 1, with Brett
returning from many years in the UK, the past decade as chief of Kookaburra Reader where he
oversaw the integration into the business of ball-manufacturing acquisitions and preparations for London 2012 Olympic Games.
Reports Rob, "The board identified Brett
as the right person to take on the role - providing a nice continuity - and I will retire, although staying on as a director, and I hope there will be a role for me advising on local and international issues.
Established as AG Thompson in 1890 by an immigrant leather worker, and with three members of the Thompson family playing important roles in the business, the Kookaburra brand is predominantly cricket - equipment, footwear apparel and accessories, with field hockey as a sport which is seen as having substantial growth potential globally.
• Brett Elliot
had arrived in Melbourne to take up his
new role little more than a day before he
spoke with Sportslink
reported being jetlagged but excited about taking on the top job.
says, "The issue of succession is always a vitally important one in a family company - we are fifth generation - and timing had been under discussion for some time.
It had to be the right time for Rob, and the right time for the business," reports Brett
attributes the global brand's success to the brand-building and market development - "we invest heavily in our products, put it first, and our innovation and quality shine through.
"We have maintained our good reputation and focused on leading the industry in service to our customers," he
role as group managing director as a global one, focusing on international issues.
Says Brett, "We want to have the best players in India too, but values are skyrocketing, boosted by sportswear brands such as Adidas and Nike signing top players to sell apparel, and our strategy is to choose young players and try to keep them for life.
Among the global challenges faced by Kookaburra
- and Brett
acknowledges that the brand is certainly not alone! - is the "harder time retail is having world-wide.
Europe has tough years ahead which will impact on Australia too and we have to understand that our customers are finding it tough and we must work with them to help them survive."
is well-positioned to maintain its growth and potential but there are significant challenges world-wide.
And this is an issue Brett
has seen first hand, playing village cricket in Rutland and with his
two teenage sons who are keen cricketers too.
• Will his
sons follow into the family business?
This is not a given, says Brett
, depending on their skills and job opportunities here when they reach the right ages.
Meanwhile Brett says, there are three Thompson cousins playing vital roles in manufacturing for Kookaburra Sport, including Ross Thompson as head of cricket ball production and Peter Thompson head of R&D.
• Field hockey is a growing sport in Europe, reports Brett, with Kookaburra as number two in England and a successful and growing distributor in the Netherlands which is the centre of European hockey.
Spain and German markets are growing too, he
Among the positives of the return to Australia for Brett
family, is the much closer access to a beach and the opportunity to enjoy his
favourite sports of kiteboarding and windsurfing.
annual visit to the UK and South Africa in the northern summer started in early July with official handover to Brett
happening in Corby, Northamptonshire, rather than Melbourne which remains Kookaburra's home and major manufacturing facility.
"All our roots are here," Rob says.
Pictured: Rob Elliot (left) hands over the bat to son and successor Brett