Dunlop Sport

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Dunlop Sport
IndustrySports equipment, textile, footwear
Founded1910; 112 years ago (1910)[1]
Area served
ProductsRackets, strings, balls, shuttlecock, sportswear, sneakers, accessories
Revenueapprox. $650 million[3]
ParentSRI Sports

Dunlop Sport is a British sports equipment manufacturing company established in 1910 that focuses on racquet sports, more specifically tennis, squash, padel and badminton. Products by Dunlop Sport include rackets, strings, balls, shuttlecocks, and bags. Sportswear and clothing line includes t-shirts, shorts, skirts, jackets, pants, socks, caps, sneakers, and wristbands.

Dunlop Sport is operated by SRI Sports, a subsidiary of Japanese conglomerate Sumitomo Rubber Industries, which acquired the Dunlop brand in 2017.[4]

In the past, Dunlop also manufactured golf equipment.[5]


Dunlop advertisement for its golf balls, 1922

Dunlop was established as a company manufacturing goods from rubber in 1889.[5] The company entered the sporting goods market in 1910, when it began to manufacture rubber golf balls at its base in Birmingham.[1] The company introduced the Maxfli golf ball in 1922.[6]

Dunlop extended into tennis ball manufacture in 1924.[7] In 1925, F A Davis was acquired, which had tennis racket manufacturing expertise.[8][7] Dunlop opened acquisition discussions with Slazenger in 1927, but without success.[7] In 1928 the sports division became a subsidiary of Dunlop Rubber named Dunlop Sports.[5] Headquarters were relocated from Birmingham to Waltham Abbey in Essex.[6]

The Dunlop Masters golf tournament was established in 1946.[9] It was sponsored by Dunlop until 1982, and is now known as the British Masters.

In 1957 Dunlop acquired the golf club manufacturer John Letters of Scotland.[10] In 1959 the Slazenger Group was acquired.[5] The Dunlop "flying D" logo was introduced in 1960.[9]

In the 1970s and 1980s, Dunlop was slow to adapt to the new materials that tennis rackets were increasingly being made from, believing that wood would remain the dominant material.[5]

Tennis (left) and squash balls by Dunlop

In 1983 the John Letters golf club business was sold back to members of the Letters family.[11] One year later, the sports businesses were merged to form Dunlop Slazenger.[12]

In 1986, the parent company, Dunlop Holdings, was acquired by the industrial company BTR for £549 million.[13] BTR cut marketing spending to just 8 per cent of sales and reduced investment in grass roots sponsorship and research and development.[14] Steffi Graf's sponsorship money was cut so she defected to a Wilson racket.[14]

In 1996 Dunlop Slazenger was acquired by the private equity firm Cinven for £330 million.[5] To save money, Cinven moved production of Dunlop tennis balls from England to the Philippines. Slazenger Golf and Maxfli were sold off to reduce debt.[15]

Sports Direct International bought Dunlop Slazenger for £40 million in 2004.[16]

In December 2016, Sports Direct announced it had agreed to sell the Dunlop brand to Sumitomo Rubber Industries for £112 million ($137.5 million).[17] Sumitomo already owned the rights to the sports as well as the rubber industries brand in most of the world. The sale is due to be completed by May 2017.[18]



Dunlop advertisement featuring John McEnroe in 1981

More tennis Grand Slams have been won with Dunlop rackets than any other brand.

Dunlop Sport is the current supplier for the Australian Open as well as the ATP World Team Championship in Düsseldorf. It is also the official supplier for all three clay court ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments, which includes the Monte-Carlo Masters, the Rome Masters and the Madrid Masters. As for ATP World Tour 500 tournaments, it is the official supplier for the Barcelona Open.

Additionally, Dunlop is the official supplier for ATP World Tour 250 tournaments at the BMW Open in Munich, the Portugal Open and the Open de Nice Côte d'Azur. Dunlop Sport is also the official supplier of the WTA Tour Volvo Cars Open in Charleston, South Carolina.

Notable present and former players that have used Dunlop tennis rackets (and switched sponsorships) include:



Retired players[edit]


Notable players who use Dunlop squash racquets include :



Former players[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b The Growth and Performance of British Multinational Firms before 1939: The Case of Dunlop Geoffrey Jones The Economic History Review , New Series, Vol. 37, No. 1 (Feb. 1984) , pp. 35–53 Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Economic History Society Article Stable URL:
  2. ^ "Terms & Conditions".
  3. ^ "Dunlop » IBML". Archived from the original on 18 January 2014. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
  4. ^ Wood, Zoe (27 December 2016). "Sports Direct sells Dunlop for $137m". The Guardian.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Klaus Schmidt; Chris Ludlow (2002). Inclusive Branding: The Why and How of a Holistic Approach to Brands. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 183–9. ISBN 978-0-230-51329-7.
  6. ^ a b Jones, Stephen G. (1992). Sport, Politics and the Working Class: Organised Labour and Sport in Inter-war Britain. Manchester University Press. p. 51. ISBN 978-0-7190-3680-4.
  7. ^ a b c Grieves, Keith (1989). Sir Eric Geddes: Business and Government in War and Peace. Manchester University Press. p. 112. ISBN 978-0-7190-2345-3.
  8. ^ "Dunlop And F. A. Davis, Limited." Times [London, England] 29 January 1925: 18. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 16 January 2014.
  9. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 30 September 2013. Retrieved 16 January 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 January 2014. Retrieved 17 January 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ John Letters – History & Heritage Archived 1 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ The Guardian (London) 17 November 1984 Dunlop divides into seven 'profit centres' BYLINE: By MAGGIE BROWN
  13. ^ Dunlop sold in BTR re-focus – Business – News – The Independent
  14. ^ a b BTR eyes overseas sites to cut losses
  15. ^ Dunlop back on form after golf sale | The Sunday Times
  16. ^ Osborne, Alistair (5 February 2004). "Game, set and match for Dunlop Slazenger". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 12 September 2012. Retrieved 23 September 2008.
  17. ^ Wood, Zoe (27 December 2016). "Sports Direct sells Dunlop for $137m". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 December 2016.
  18. ^ Butler, Sarah (29 December 2016). "Pension expert call for scrutiny over Sports Direct sale of Dunlop". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 December 2016.

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