May 26, 2004
GORDON SIMPSON: Thank you for your attendance, ladies and gentlemen, second day that we've had a fairly illustrious top table, I would say.
Before we commence, on my far right here is George O'Grady, the Deputy Executive Director of the European Tour. Next to George is Ken Schofield, the Executive Director of the Tour. Next to Ken is Mel Pyatt, the President and CEO of Volvo Event Management. And to my immediate right, we have Hugh Reid, who is the managing director of Volvo Car, U.K., Limited.
I think Ken is going to open up proceedings, so, Ken, we'll leave it to you. Thank you.
KEN SCHOFIELD: Thank you, Gordon, ladies and gentlemen. We've had many happy occasions, Wentworth Club. We've had very many happy occasions with Mel and all of his colleagues in Volvo. Today is another such day.
17 years have elapsed since Volvo were named the first and to date, only naming title sponsor of the European Tour, and have done very many things with us over that period that we have all witnessed and we have all been privileged to be a part of.
Today we are very pleased on behalf of the Tour, George and myself, that that partnership is to be extended by a minimum of a further three years and that Volvo will commence and end the 2005 European Tour seasons starting with the Volvo China Open, which will be co sanctioned by both our own tour and the Asian Tour for the first time this year in November.
And the season will conclude, the home season, 2005, as has been tradition, with the playing of the Volvo Masters Valderrama Andalucia.
We must also announce today that Volvo will not be continuing their 17 year sponsorship of the PGA Championship, and on that particular subject, the Tour will make its replacement announcements in due course.
We would clearly want to take this opportunity to express appreciation for the part that Volvo, Volvo Cars, and in particular with Hugh here, Volvo United Kingdom, in making such a tremendous contribution, to this, the 50th PGA Championship, the 17th sponsored in succession by Volvo, and indeed, all of them here at Wentworth Club.
I think with that, Gordon, if I have your agreement, perhaps that would be the moment to hand over to Mel. Thank you.
MEL PYATT: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I actually think you've said it all, Ken, but I do actually have a prepared speech to give you all, so I'd rather go through that if I may.
I'm delighted obviously to be here today, after our initial contract with the PGA European Tour some 17 years ago so announce a further extension of that particular contract, making it an historic 20 years.
This extension for the Volvo Masters Andalucia and Volvo China Open underlines the importance that Volvo Group and Volvo Car Corporation place on professional golf and our partnership with the European Tour, and it remains fundamental to Volvo's future strategy to Europe, and naturally the Far East.
The decision to end the sponsorship of the PGA Championship was taken following a year long review of Volvo's global golf strategy, which identified the business benefits of increasing investment in Asia, particularly in China, while maintaining a healthy and strong relationship with golf at every level in Europe.
As a result of this review, we were charged by the numerous Volvo companies around the world to channel energies into a new challenge. To extend our association with golf even further and the Volvo Masters Andalucia was chosen as the ideal vehicle for this particular venture.
In the first place, it maintains a very strong position for Volvo and the European domestic market, maintaining our history of supporting professional events in Britain, Germany, Italy and Sweden. And secondly, it will play a central part in Volvo's increasingly powerful strategic golfing program, and will be at the heart of a new global amateur tour, the Volvo Masters Amateur.
Now we can look forward to continuing forward to work with the European Tour with whom, through Ken and George and all their members of staff, we have developed a vibrant partnership which both the Volvo Group and Volvo Car Corporation emphasizes important to their future business.
The Volvo PGA has been a cornerstone of our strategy for 17 years, and in that time, has surpassed all expectations in terms of creating brand awareness, delivering media coverage, and fulfilling our many business objectives in the United Kingdom and also worldwide.
We are obviously very sad to end our relationship with this particular event, but now, looking forward to a fabulous final week here at Wentworth, and I would finally like to take this opportunity on behalf of the entire Volvo Group to thank Julian Small and his entire staff at Wentworth Club for being impeccable hosts and friends for the past 17 years.
Thank you. (Applause).
Q. The extension of the three year sponsorship is both the Volvo China Open and the Volvo Masters, just to be clear on that?
MEL PYATT: Yes, that's absolutely right. The Volvo Masters Andalucia will go on for another three years, complete the 20 years, and obviously hopefully go beyond that once we go through our reviews the with European PGA TOUR.
But you should know the Volvo China Open we actually signed a ten year agreement with the China Golf Association and the Sports Ministry in Beijing, so we are looking at a very long continued association with the PGA European Tour due to their co sanctioning of that particular event.
Q. What does this mean for the Order of Merit?
GEORGE O'GRADY: I think it's still under discussion. Volvo have been a very considerate sponsor in this change, and we'll have a time when we review it, whether we allow them to keep it or whether they wish to keep it and whether it might move with a different sponsor.
So I think the decision is not finalized on that, and we'll announce that in due course.
Q. But does that end at the end of the period we are talking about, i.e., the end of next year?
GEORGE O'GRADY: The Order of Merit this year will finish at the Volvo Masters, and for the new season will either continue on the same vein, or we'll develop something new.
Q. Mel, if you were offering a testimonial to the next sponsor to come in for the PGA Championship, what would you say?
MEL PYATT: Well, have you got half an hour? (Laughter.)
Well, I think first of all, when we started in 1988, it was a fully fledgling product at that time, but I think with Volvo's investments and Volvo's resources, not only from Volvo but from Volvo Car U.K. when Mr. Philip Payze was in charge at the time, it brought it to another level, and I was only saying funny enough to Bernard Langer last night at the dinner when Volvo gets involved, we try and do it in a different way.
We don't just throw money at an event; we actually try and encompass caring and relationship, not only with the media, but with all of the players and all of the periphery people that are involved in the event, to keep the atmosphere very high and very positive. I think that's awfully important when you are only there for one week at an event. And that's been one of our strategies since day one.
So, I think what you've seen, due to the growth of the PGA European Tour through the guidance of Ken and George, and naturally the player field whose depth is very strong right now, you're seeing a major championship. Ernie Els said last night, this is without doubt, second to the Open Championship. So you are seeing an absolutely magnificent product.
Q. At what stage are you in terms of seeking out a replacement sponsor?
GEORGE O'GRADY: I think we are very interested to see the reaction we get when this becomes public tomorrow. But right now, we have three strong potential sponsors who we're talking to.
Q. Will the Volvo Masters Andalucia remain in Valderrama?
MEL PYATT: You know, the contract with Junta de Andalucia, that's the Spanish government of Andalucia, actually ends at the end of this particular season, this year. Obviously due to the changes of the government at this particular time, Mr. Zapatero and Mr. Paulino Plata, who is now the new president in Andalucia, we have not had any opportunity to speak to them.
Technically speaking, we would normally be having an agreement signed for March going forward, but they have obviously more other important things to do in shoring up their own government. I'll be meeting with Mr. Patino and Mr. Plata in June to discuss going forward.
Q. Do you have any facts and figures on Volvo's growing business in China?
MEL PYATT: I do, actually. I have a two pager here. (Laughter.) I was anticipating your question.
Yes, we are going through numerous joint ventures now in China, and not to bore you, but very brief, with Volvo Tracks and Bus, we have joint ventures now in Shanghai. Volvo Construction Equipment, we have a big joint venture now in Shanghai. Volvo Car Corporation, not just an imported status at this present status but hopefully with the platform of looking at producing cars next year on the S40 platform.
Even Volvo Penta, the Volvo Penta marine engines, they have just opened up their first marine dealership in China, but not only that, the industrial engines are selling very well indeed due to their environmental presence.
Q. Where is your Amateur Championship going to be held?
MEL PYATT: It's a new strategy. The Volvo Group from Volvo Car will create their Volvo Masters Amateur in their own markets worldwide feeding literally into a global final of the best 72 players which we will position around probably the Volvo Masters Andalucia in Spain.
So that's actually how we're building there. Coming through the research we had through all of our companies, we had to create obviously meaningful relationships with our customers. We weren't criticizing what we have done about professional golf and creating brand awareness delivering TV coverage, etc., They wanted us to research how we can get to our customer base better.
Q. Is this elite amateur golfers or handicapped golfers, 10s, 18s?
MEL PYATT: Oh, yes, all range of handicaps, grass roots level and up. All ranges of amateur golf.
Q. Given that this event is described as the flagship event, the No. 2 event after the Open on the European tour; therefore, it ranks higher in importance than the Volvo Masters. Why do you retain sponsorship of the Volvo Masters but not this?
MEL PYATT: Not an easy one to answer but I will. The research tells you very clearly, that was done over the last 18 months to all of our Volvo Companies worldwide, and as important as The Players Championship is, the Volvo PGA Championship, it was not well utilized by our Volvo Group commercially worldwide. It was tremendously well done by Volvo Car, U.K. and I'm not patronizing Hugh here, but has always been done, which no other market has actually done so well, through promotions, courtesy car service, etc. That's been tremendous, but it was not well utilized on a worldwide platform where the Volvo Masters is.
The Volvo Masters is the end of season tournament, Top 60 in the Volvo Order of Merit, etc., But we do get people from all over the world coming into Valderrama.
GORDON SIMPSON: Well, on that note, thank you very much Mel and members of the top table. Let's have a great send off this week at went worth club. Thank you very much.
End of FastScripts.