The information has been circulating for a few days and it is this Monday morning, February 14, that the Duval Group, already owner of Ugolf, has just confirmed the acquisition of the Bluegreen company to thus become the 6th world golf operator.
The two networks, geographically complementary, have 93 golf courses in France and generate around 115 million euros in turnover. The set employs 1,500 people and advertises more than 60,000 licensees.
golf planet met Pierre-Andre Uhlenthe general manager of Ugolf, who answered our questions.
Pauline Duval: Opening golf to a wide public in France and abroad
As to paulina duvalGeneral Director of the group that therefore bought Bluegreen, let us know her feelings at the time of this important operation that marks the history of golf in France:
“We are happy to integrate BlueGreen equipment into our family group. We will offer them the means to pursue their development, staying true to the human values we share and the entrepreneurial spirit that drives us.
Our ambition? Continue to open golf to a wide audience in France and internationally. »
Pierre-André Uhlen: the business plan does not stop at this merger
The Duval Group, already owner of Ugolf, announces, this Monday, February 14, the acquisition of Bluegreen, the subsidiary of the Saur group that would also be for sale. Its two billings are almost equivalent, around 56 million euros. What pushed the Duval Group towards this unexpected merger, although some already place it in the direction of History?
In 2007, the Duval Group bought the company Nouveaux Golfs de France (now UGOLF) which then had a dozen golf courses in operation. Since then, UGOLF has continued to develop to manage today 59 golf courses in France and abroad. When the Blue Green sale process was initiated by SAUR in mid-2021, it was logical to position itself. This merger is, as you say, the meaning of history: it allows us to consolidate the market with two main objectives: to develop the market through the arrival of new players and to retain them through more services.
Did the post-pandemic improvement in golf seen in the US, UK or Europe influence your decision?
UGOLF is a company that has continued to grow, even during the years when the market remained stagnant. The academy, the solidity of the network, the quality of the service are examples of levers on which we work a lot with the teams. The Ryder Cup in France in 2018 has accelerated interest in golf in our country and the pandemic has been one more accelerator, although, let us remember, the golf courses were closed for 3 months in 2020. We believe in the development of golf because this sport it conveys values that we share such as high standards, care for others and direction, performance for those who are more attracted to competition. Finally, golf is the sport of a lifetime with a retention rate of over 80% each year.
If their geographical complementarity is a key point of this operation, what about their differences in cultures and management methods? More centralized for one, more active in the field for the other… How to reconcile the two histories, the two realities: are you going to join them in a single structure?
We will reflect on the brand strategy later. At the beginning, we will make the 2 entities live together, get to know each other and then look for an operation that brings out the best of both.
What will be the consequence tomorrow for the staff of the two companies? and for golfers who are members of their networks?
We want to promote team building and sharing together so that the business project does not remain in this approach. We want to continue our development, especially internationally. All these development projects are opportunities for employees who want to evolve and also the opportunity to offer our players an ever broader golf experience in our network.
Ultimately, it was the Duval Group, and not Ugolf, that acquired Bluegreen: how should this strategic choice be interpreted?
It is a business option that aims to successfully integrate Blue Green. Again, we have to know how it works and define the best strategy for tomorrow.