Dominator fails to dominate

12-08-2008

It isn’t an unusual practice: a well-known sports celebrity sets up a line of sports clothing. From a marketing perspective, the idea seems perfect: capitalize on the name-recognition of said sportsperson and either open a bar, sports-shop or even set up a line of clothing. Dominik Hašek, former ice-hockey legendary goalkeeper did the latter. But now it seems that his business venture has hit some bumps in the road. DJ reports:

In 1999, ice-hockey legend Jaromir Jagr opened a bar called Jagr Sports Bar. Last year, amidst unspecified financial difficulties, that bar, located at the top of Wenceslas Square was forced to close. Footballing legend Karel Podborsky has a sports-shop called Stevesport at the base of Wencesals Square. Unlike Jagr, it seems to be thriving. Meanwhile, Ladislav Vizek a former striker for Dukla Prague owns a pub while Tomáš "Bomber" Skuhravý became the franchise owner of a flagship store on Prague's na Příkopě street. But after abandoning that business idea, Skuhravý didn’t give up and instead opened a drinking establishment and also a restaurant in his hometown of Přerov nad Labem in central Bohemia.

The above examples highlight the hit-and-miss world of entrepreneurship undertaken by retired Czech sports stars. Sometimes, they make it, but other times, as is so often the case in the world of small businesses, they are dogged by failure. The most recent case of failure comes from legendary retired ice-hockey captain Dominik Hašek. During his illustrious sporting career, Dominik Hašek played for the NHL teams Chicago Blackhawks, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, and the Ottawa Senators, earning the nickname “Dominator”. His spells as the goalkeeper for the Czech national team led cheering Czechs on more than one occasion to scream “Hašek na hrad!” or “Hašek to the castle – Hašek for president.”

But in June of this year, at the age of 43, Mr Hašek announced his retirement from the sport. Like so many before him, he had also decided to enter the risky world of entrepreneurship. Back in 1998, capitalising on his nickname, Mr Hašek launched a line of clothing called “Dominator” available in around 100 stores across the Czech Republic and also around the world. Ironically, it was not until Mr Hašek returned to the Czech Republic after his retirement to fully focus on the clothing line that it got into trouble. In an interview with The Prague Post, the former goalkeeper noted “The company was losing about 30,000 Kč [$1,955] per day, and I’ve already put in some 90 million Kč over its 10-year presence on the market.” Mr Hašek’s operation was far larger than those of his fellow Czechs, operating both in Europe and the United States. Now, he has decided to close down the European wing, while keeping the US business afloat. Conceding what so many others have learnt, he also noted “As an entrepreneur who headed the company for merely two weeks, I think I made the proper decision to close down.”

12-08-2008