the biggest brand in squash, is to be sold to Japanese company
Sumitomo Rubber Industries. Sports Direct, who reportedly bought the
Dunlop Slazenger brand for £40million in 2004, is selling it in a
surprise £112m deal.
The Dunlop ball is the official ball of the three main squash
associations – the World Squash Federation, the Professional Squash
Association and England Squash. It is also a major squash-racket
brand, sponsoring three time world champion Nick Matthew, former
world champion Gregory Gaultier, world no.8 Ali Farag and world
no.10 Alison Waters.
Dunlop began as a rubber manufacturing company in 1889, developed
its tyre business and became one of the first multi-nationals until
it was bought by BTR in 1985. The tyre company entered the sporting
goods market in 1910, when it began to manufacture rubber golf balls
at its base in Birmingham. The company introduced the Maxfl i golf
ball in 1922. In 1924 it started manufacturing tennis balls and a
year later began making tennis rackets.
The famous Dunlop ‘fl ying D’ logo was introduced in 1960.
It has been a major golf and tennis brand for years, with Rod Laver
and John McEnroe having used its tennis rackets. It also produced
the iconic green-flash squash shoe and the Maxply squash racket.
Sumitomo Rubber Industries, which was originally called the Dunlop
Rubber Company, has a tyre business, as well as a sports division
that makes tennis and golf equipment. It already owns the rights to
the Dunlop brand for other markets, owning Srixon and Cleveland
Golf, as well as rights to the Dunlop name in Japan, Taiwan and
Korea. At the time of going to press, the sale had not been
completed, but this is expected to be finalised in May 2017.