We will be publishing regular blogs throughout the year at www.harrowsdarts.com, covering a wide spectrum of subjects within the world of darts. We continue with the third of a three-part Harrows history lesson…
A penny for the thoughts of Jack Harris, Colin Harris and Ron Woodhead – the founders of Harrows in 1973 – given the way the company has evolved over the past five decades, writes Luke Nicoli.
Innovative, cutting-edge and always at the forefront of darts technology, Harrows is a brand leader, not just in the UK but right across the world.
With a team of leading designers in their field and forward-thinking staff, the boundaries are continually being pushed, and a quick glance at the products and accessories on this website is evidence of such.
As we post this blog in the summer of 2019, Harrows is a brand that respects the past but is very much forward thinking.
“Our products have taken a quantum leap forward in recent years,” says Harrows international sales manager Euan Blundell. “The way our darts are made, the way they’re cut, and the way they’re presented, it’s really gone to another level.
“We’ve got a great design team but anyone within our workplace can bring an idea to the table, which is a nice way of working. These past few years we’ve really stepped up our game but so has the level of competition. This ensures we, as a company, are continually striving for excellence.”
“And if you look at the range we offer today, it’s miles ahead of what we were doing five years ago, so there’s no reason to think that in five years’ time we’re not doing more of the same and more frequently,” interjected Harrows sales director, Robert Pringle. “There are two things in business that get people going; the price and the desire for something new. As long as we are always producing new and innovative things, there is always going to be an interest in our products.”
Given the boundaries have already been pushed to unprecedented levels, it augurs the question: where is peak darts? Have we reached that point already or can Harrows, indeed, take darts technology to the next level?
“You think there is only so much you can do with a dart, but then someone will come up with a new idea in our office and the beauty of having our factory based on-site means we can experiment,” added Euan. “We firmly believe that we can keep pushing the boundaries.”
In the meantime, the challenge for Harrows is to continue growing its customer base, achieved by serving its full spectrum of players, from the beginner to the professional, from the enthusiastic youngster to the seasoned club campaigner. And from the UK heartlands to all four corners of the globe.
Above right: Harrows first overseas tournament – the 1981 Dutch Open
Above: The current Harrows team discuss the latest in product development
“Obviously we make some really nice high-end tungsten darts but we don’t want to neglect entry level brass darts – they’re the best selling darts in the world,” Euan adds. “Not all countries are as affluent as the UK either, so it’s important we produce excellent darts across the price range.
“The market for accessories is also massively important to us because, by the sport’s very nature, flights and shafts, for instance, get damaged and have to be replaced. They come in and out of fashion, with different colours and shapes, so we have to maintain our creativity, especially among the younger players who are, of course, more conscious of the look of their darts.”
While steel tip darts are all encompassing, certainly in the UK, soft tip darts have also been very good to Harrows around the world. As mentioned in a previous blog, its introduction in the late 1980s provided an important revenue stream to the company, and that remains the case today.
“Soft tip has introduced people to the idea of darts being more of a fun, recreational activity than a serious sport, so it’s brought in a new breed of player,” adds Robert. “And as they’re new to the game, those players have generally been quite open minded with regards to what their darts should look like. They embrace change and might have 15 or 20 sets of darts of varying colours. You wouldn’t see that with steel tip as it’s seen as trivialising the sport, but there’s definitely room for both, a bit like rugby league and rugby union.”
So we’ve covered the past, the present and the future; we’ve profiled the darts, the accessories and the production, but there’s also a key element of the Harrows brand that shouldn’t be overlooked – its marketing arm.
“Every week of the year there will be some Harrows-sponsored international event,” Robert adds. “The Harrows Grand Prix series goes out all over Australasia, with 15 tournaments per annum, with the winners qualifying to play in the PDC World Championships at Alexandra Palace. We also sponsored the Russian national championships recently in St Petersburg.”
“We’ve invested heavily in promoting the sport all around the world,” Euan points out. “We work with lots of associations, federations and promoters across Europe and around the world. We’re sponsoring tournaments, as Robert said, we’re sponsoring leagues and if we can gain kudos that way, it can only have a positive impact on our sales.
“We’ve positioned ourselves very nicely as a brand and we’re focused on creating good products that are accessible to a broad spectrum of people around the world. Our focus or ethos is not going to change in that respect, and hopefully that will serve us well as we look to the future with optimism.”