Winmau, the world's leading darts brand, celebrates its 70th anniversary this year. A 70th anniversary is traditionally marked by something in platinum, but for Winmau, tungsten and sisal would be more appropriate!
Winmau is a company steeped in history, and the beginnings of the most pioneering company in darts started in 1946 when Harry Kicks used his demob money to set up a business in London's bomb-damaged East End manufacturing elm dartboards called Kicks Bros (the company was renamed Winmau - an amalgamation of the first three letters of Harry's wife's first two names, WINifred MAUd - in the mid-1970s). Back then, his father painted the colours and numbers by hand, and Harry's first customer was the Watney Brewery.
In the 1960s, the company moved into the production of bristle dartboards which carried the name Winmau. Ever since, Winmau has been at the forefront of darts innovation and is respected the world over for its attention to detail and unrivalled product quality. Winmau's development of the dartboard typifies the company's drive to push boundaries. Winmau dartboards have been the official equipment of choice for the British Darts Organisation (BDO) since 1973 and are used exclusively in more than 800 BDO events each year, including the Lakeside World Championships and the world's oldest major darts tournament - the Winmau World Masters. The launch of the Blade model in 1997 was a pivotal moment and changed the face of dartboard manufacturing forever. The current version, the Blade 4 Dual Core, is the fifth phase of innovation and has set the standard as the sport's most advanced and durable dartboard.
Today, based in Bridgend, South Wales, the company, is not only the world's leading and most televised darts brand, but also the largest manufacturer of premium bristle dartboards and military grade tungsten darts.
BDO Chairperson Sue Williams said: "Winmau is simply the biggest brand in darts, and they have a reputation for quality that is second-to-none. They truly are the force behind the sport. Our relationship with and endorsement of Winmau has endured for more than forty years because we share a common vision of encouraging and supporting darts at all levels from grass roots to the professionals. Winmau have been a key supporter of youth, ladies and disability darts, and no other company has their passion and drive to continue to offer players across the board the opportunities to compete at the highest level."
Although the Winmau name is synonymous with the best dartboards in the world, the company today provides a full range of premium quality products that span the entire spectrum of the game and are exported to more than 100 countries. Its military grade tungsten darts, including the iconic Stratos Dual Core and Diamond models, are used by millions of amateur and professional players across the globe.
Today the company sponsors an international stable of more than 40 professional players (including current World Champions Scott Waites and Trina Gulliver) and their players hold 20 World Championship titles between them. Established in 1974, the Winmau World Masters is the oldest major tournament in the worldwide game and is unique in its ability to offer men, women, youth and disabled players a global platform to showcase their talents.
In addition to its 40 plus year relationship with the BDO, Winmau has developed partnerships with most major leading darts organisations globally, and the company has helped champion the sport through its support of the World Disability Darts Association, the British Disability Darts Association, the Junior Darts Corporation, the Ladies Darts Organisation and the Webcam Darts Association.
"Darts has become a worldwide phenomenon and we are proud that, with 70 years of heritage, we have been a major part of that history," says Winmau's Sales and Marketing Director, Ian Flack. "Our longevity is based on a foundation of revolutionary thinking and an unrivalled passion for the game. We have had so many new and exciting products, ideas and concepts over the years, and it is this pursuit of always striving to find even the smallest advantage to help players improve their game that keeps us pushing forward. The landscape has changed massively over the course of 70 years, and we are proud to be at the pinnacle of the current digital age with initiatives such as Winmau TV. Who knows where darts will be in another 70 years, but we'll be doing our best to continue being at its forefront."