Interview with Mikhel Ruia
Worked at J.P. Morgan in their investment banking team for three years before joining Glenmuir where he has been for nearly eight years. Responsible for product design and buying, marketing and e-commerce for both the Glenmuir and Sunderland of Scotland brands.
Based in the heart of Scotland, the Home of Golf, in a town called Lanark where the company has been since 1891. He is the third generation of a family textile business called the “Ruia Group”. “Ruia” means cotton in Hindi.
Ruia is 32-years-old, golfs to a six handicap and read economics at Durham University, receiving first class honors.
The Ruia Story —
Mikhel Ruia got a call from his father Vimal Ruia, the Chairman of the business. Mikhel was told the Managing Director, now over 65 years of age, wanted to retire. Asked if he wanted to take up the challenge in managing a team of nearly 100 in Scotland, Mikhel, only 24 at the time, decided to take up the challenge putting into practice what he learned at University and during his time in Investment Banking.
He has managed to combine the rich 130-year heritage of Glenmuir with cutting edge design, product innovation and investment in technology which has taken the business from strength to strength with a presence in 30 countries including South Korea, Australia, Canada, Russia, India, Switzerland, France, Germany, Spain and of course the UK.
You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion?
To craft the world’s most loved golf clothing. Creating joy, enhancing performance and timeless elegance for all golfers through Glenmuir clothing.
What differentiates your company’s efforts versus those of your competitors?
We are a family independent business which allows us to be agile and proactive vs the other larger sportswear companies. The lag from decision making to putting into action is extremely quick.
How did you fare in ’20 and what are you expecting for overall company performance in ’21?
Overall, it has been a year which has had ups and downs. We are overall flat in the year and managed to make no redundancies whilst continuing to serve our customers well. We saw a massive shift to e-commerce also which we were able to capitalize on given our many years of investment into technology and e-commerce.
If you had to use just one word to describe your brand in the golf industry – what word would you choose?
How important a role do endorsements play and what philosophy do you follow from a company perspective?
We have several ambassadors on Tour as well as sports celebrities and social media influencers who wear our products including Aaron Rai, Ian Woosnam, Andrew Murray, Clare Balding, Max Evans and Bella Angel.
Who is your customer?
Mr. & Mrs. Glenmuir are subtly elegant, appreciate craftmanship and natural fibers, understand quality and durability.
What roles does feedback from your customers play in shaping future product decisions?
We have constant instant feedback loops for our customers with products reviews being fed back to our Product Design and Development team in real time which allows us to be nimble and react quickly to trends and feedback. This is taken into account in addition to previous seasons sales, and trend forecasting.
Companies routinely tout the importance of customer service. Define the term and the approach you follow.
Our aim is to be the easiest company in the golf industry to deal. The speed, efficiency, and quality of our customer service in addition to our large stock holding and personalization service sets us apart.
If you could change one thing in golf unilaterally — what would it be and why?
Make the game more inclusive for all. Golf for us is about coming together for the love of the game. That is the spirit of Glenmuir.
Best advice you ever received — what was it and who from?
“Make hard decisions and make your own mistakes. It is the only way to learn.” My Father.
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