Dunlop Sport

Dunlop Sport
Industry Sporting goods
Founded 1910 (1910) [1]
Headquarters Shirebrook, Derbyshire, England[2]
Products Racquet sports equipment and accessories, Golf equipment
Revenue approx. $650 million[3]

Dunlop Sport is a British sporting goods company that specialises in tennis and golf equipment.[4] Dunlop have manufactured sporting equipment since 1910.[1]

In most parts of the world, Dunlop Sports is owned by Sports Direct International. The brand is owned by SRI Sports in Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. DNA (Housemarks) Limited, a company jointly owned by Sports Direct and SRI Sports, is the owner of the Dunlop brand in the United States, and Spartan Sports have the rights to the brand in Australia and New Zealand.[5]


A Dunlop tennis ball.
Dunlop Revelation Pro 1 squash ball

Dunlop was established as a company manufacturing goods from rubber in 1889.[4] 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 an independent subsidiary named Dunlop Sports.[4] 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.[4]

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.[4]

In 1983 the John Letters golf club business was sold back to members of the Letters family.[11]

In 1984 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.[4] 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]


More tennis Grand Slams have been won with Dunlop rackets than any other brand.[4]

Dunlop Sport is the current supplier for 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, it 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 players that have used Dunlop tennis rackets (and switched sponsorships) in the past include Steffi Graf, John McEnroe, Amélie Mauresmo, Tomáš Berdych, Mardy Fish, Tommy Haas, Martina Navratilova, Marat Safin, James Blake and Jamie Murray. Present users include:

Male Players

Female Players

Retired players

Male Players

Female Players


Notable players who utilize Dunlop squash racquets include :

Male Players

Female Players

Former Players


See also


  1. 1 2 3 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:
  3. Dunlop » IBML
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 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.
  5. "Pacific Dunlop ditches Australian icons". Asia Times. 29 April 1999. Retrieved 2006-12-06.
  6. 1 2 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. 1 2 3 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 Jan. 1925: 18. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 16 Jan. 2014.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6
  11. John Letters - History & Heritage
  12. The Guardian (London) November 17, 1984 Dunlop divides into seven 'profit centres' BYLINE: By MAGGIE BROWN
  13. Dunlop sold in BTR re-focus - Business - News - The Independent
  14. 1 2 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". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2008-09-23.
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