The Prince of Tennis Bounces Back

By Seana Smith Features FOXBusiness

Prince Sports Serves Up Comeback Story

Prince Global Sports CEO Mike Ballardie on the company's turnaround.

Prince Global Sports is back from bankruptcy and serving up some buzz for its business during the first week of the US Open. The manufacturer of tennis racquets, apparel and shoes is restructuring its brand and unveiling new products after filing for Chapter 11 protection 15 months ago.  

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“It’s been a long road over the past year. I think it all started by going back to basics,” said Prince Global Sports CEO Mike Ballardie, who was appointed to the position earlier this year.  “Prince is the authentic American tennis company. We went back to our roots.”

Prince blamed the slow economy, increased competition and a cutback in discretionary spending by consumers for its financial problems. The company listed assets of $54 million against $78 million of debt in its bankruptcy petition. Last year, an affiliate of the Waitt Company acquired select operating assets of Prince and signed a 40-year deal to operate the brand.  

Under the direction of Ballardie, the revamped company is following a new business model.

“We spread ourselves too thin in our distribution. We went too wide and too low in terms of price and image for the brand,” said Ballardie. “We are retrenching a little bit and are going to focus on our specialties and core customers. We are going to rebuild.”

This week, Prince Global Sports is looking to capitalize on the tennis excitement that’s hitting New York during the Grand Slam tournament. The company opened a ‘brand experience space’ in Midtown Manhattan which gives consumers a preview of its new product line before it hits retailers this fall.

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Among the new products are performance racquets featuring Extreme Strong Patter (ESP) Spin technology, two bag collections and three new colors of the number one selling T22 Tennis shoe.

Prince Global Sports is partnering with top ranked athletes to promote the brand. Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, who are currently ranked number one in men’s doubles and going for the first calendar year grand slam since 1951, use the manufacturer’s racquet. John Isner, America’s top ranked player and No. 17 in the world, relies on Prince for both his racquet and his footwear.

Partnerships with some of the game’s most prominent players will help Prince Global Sports strengthen its reputation and let the global tennis community know that business is back.

“We’re in business. We’re servicing the market in the right way,” said Ballardie. “We’re happy to be here and enjoying the tennis this week.”

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