In November the MSc in Sports Industry Management had the opportunity to visit the company Babolat. See what two current students of the MSc in Sports Industry Management have to say about this visit:
Kurt S. - On Monday 16 November the MSc in Sports Industry Management cohort had the privilege of visiting Babolat at their HQ in Lyon. We had been briefed before our arrival on the day, and knew that we were in for a busy programme of presentations and lectures. However, what was surprising – and made a great impression on me – was that all of these sessions were led by top managers at Babolat. Being able to access and interact with these individuals is a rare and valuable experience for us as aspiring sports industry professionals.
Founded in Lyon, France, Babolat invented the tennis string and is the oldest company specializing in racket sports. From their humble beginnings in 1875, Babolat has gone on to become one of the most well-known and respected names in tennis, leading the market with bold innovation and premium quality products.
Remarkably, this is still a “small family business” – somewhat. Eric Babolat, current Chairman and CEO of Babolat, is the 5th generation leader of this esteemed organization. Considering this, it was very interesting to discover that Babolat, despite being a global brand that pushes more than 130€M per year, have a very flat management structure. Key managers are easily accessible, which enables Babolat to cut through potential “red-tape” delays and make important decisions quickly. Additionally, this structure of management appears to be an important contributor to the “family” feeling that is evident within this organization.
Throughout the day, we enjoyed presentations from the likes of Giovanni Pietra (Group Sales Director), Vincent-Baptiste Closon (Business leader ), Jean-Christophe Verborg (International Sports Marketing Director), René can den Heuvel (Business Leader Export), Rassan Benhacene (Purchase Director), Christine Morel (Group HR Director) and Mélanie Crespy (Relationship and Customer Service Coordinator Europe). These professionals guided presentations ranging from their own brand history and values, to detailed information around their trade marketing strategies and key statistics around their global distribution channels.
At the end of the day, we had the chance to discuss our ideas, impressions and questions with current CEO, Eric Babolat. Mr Babolat was open and very welcoming. Eric Babolat perfectly represents the organization that he leads: organized, distinguished and intelligent, while still being approachable, authentic and inclusive.
It was a pleasure for us to visit Babolat, and this experience has certainly given us a further insight into the many opportunities and directions which will be available to us as sports industry professionals.
Julien F. - It was very nice as these professionals gave us time to tell us about their jobs and to meet people that are behind the strategy of Babolat. They spent a lot of time with us, they really tried to tell us and answer our questions very precisely.
Babolat is a very dynamic brand, one of the most important actors on the racket market, but it's also a family company with a history of 140 years. They sponsor big tennis events, more especially such as Roland Garros and Wimbledon, two tournaments of the Big Slam. They also sponsor Rafael Nadal. It is really interesting to understand how they manage and activate these sponsorships.
Furthermore it was very interesting to learn how they develop their commercial strategies according to the market.
They told us about the importance of R&D. They launched the connected racket last year, a very important innovation on the tennis racket market, giving them a real competitive advantage.