Merrell reports barefoot progress
ootwear brand Merrell said it has seen strong growth in its barefoot collection, and will continue to develop its range to meet the needs of the market. Speaking at OutDoor last month, marketing manager Jonathan Pennington said it is set to ship one million pairs of barefoot shoes into the US in its first full season; a
‘phenomenal success’ for the spiritual home of barefoot running.
To support this success, Pennington said Merrell has grown its barefoot range to suit the widening market for the shoes, including the Bare Access range, which offers zero heel-to-toe drop but with greater cushioning.
“This acts as a progression from cushioned shoes that people are used to into true barefoot running,” he said. “Some people are scared of going truly barefoot so want a level of cushioning, coupled with the zero heel-to-toe drop that is the hallmark of barefoot running.”
Merrell has also developed a shoe using Gore- Tex, a first in the barefoot running market according to Pennington, and children’s barefoot shoes, which he described as a ‘natural progression’. “Children love to take their shoes off and run barefoot, so they are an obvious market to target when it comes to barefoot shoes.” In addition, Merrell is launching a new trail running shoe, the Mix Master, which Pennington said acts as a bridge for retailers and consumers to understand how Merrell can offer both barefoot running and more supportive hiking shoes. It is described as ‘faster, lighter’ and has a 4mm heel-to-toe drop, a forefoot shock absorption pad, sticky rubber outsole and a Merrell Float midsole. It can be used across a number sporting disciplines, although is primarily intended for trail running.
EOG calls on industry to contribute to sustainability drive
he European Outdoor Group (EOG) called on the outdoor industry to do its part to improve the industry’s sustainability credentials by getting involved with its Sustainability Working Group (SWG). During a breakfast meeting at OutDoor, EOG SWG chair Hilke Patzwall said sustainability is still not prevalent enough in the outdoor sector, and that the trade needs to understand that there is a growing trend for consumers to buy from environmentally friendly brands, and pay more in the processes.
SWG has been working on various platforms, such as the SIGNS web tool to provide ‘information surrounding textile regulations and standards across Europe and beyond’, as well as end of product life guidelines that form part of the EOG’s Eco Index.
Patzwall said: “Care for end of product life can have huge benefits, such as reducing textile waste and re-using resources. The industry needs to show customers that it cares and that companies don’t just drop their responsibility once the product has been sold.
“The Eco Index is a free, open source platform that you can use to assess sustainability. We are working to update and develop it, and are adding new groups to SWG looking at different areas, such as equipment and toxics.
“A challenge for SWG is resources. It takes time, energy and brains to evolve this work and all contributions are welcomed, and needed. We’re happy to have more specialist knowledge involved with the group, as it is these puzzle pieces that make SWG special.”
Silva: ‘Business as usual’ S
ilva Ltd marketing manager Kevin Thomson said it is ‘business as usual’ after parent company Silva Sweden AB’s takeover by Karnell. Silva Sweden and its subsidiaries in the UK, France, Germany and the Far East were taken over by Swedish investment company Karnell after it struck a deal with the Fiskars Group early last month. Silva president and chief executive officer Lars Gullikson said the new ownership will allow Silva to ‘proceed with simplifying its structures and focus all its resources to further develop the Silva brand and its associated products portfolio’.
One of the main brands that Silva worked with while part of the Fiskars Group was Gerber, which will continue to be distributed in the UK by Silva Ltd.
Thomson said: “It’s business as usual in the UK. When Fiskars bought into Silva they brought Gerber with them. We’ve had huge success and have taken that brand to a fantastic level in the UK, so Fiskars immediately reappointed Silva Ltd as the UK distributor for Gerber.
“It’s a fantastic endorsement of the work the team has done in the UK as Fiskars could’ve looked around and gone elsewhere but it has chosen to stay with us.”
He noted there may be difficulties for Silva operations in France and Germany, who have yet to agree a deal to continue to handle Gerber in their home markets, but said, for the UK at least, the move to become a distribution partner could pay dividends.
“It’s a positive move as we are now free to develop the Silva range more and there are no restrictions on us developing other brands, as there might’ve been under the Fiskars Group.”
Kozi Kids grows distributors again C
hildren’s outdoor clothing brand Kozi Kidz is to grow its number of markets again after reporting a positive reaction to its products at OutDoor 2011.
Director Tomas Torstensson said the company will enter three new markets after signing up distributors in France, Japan and South Africa. This follows similar growth around the time of ISPO in February.
This takes its total number of markets to 19 post-OutDoor, with Torstensson saying: “We are growing our number of markets, as well as growing the business within each market. By working with the right distributors volumes have increased and we are selling more and more.” Torstensson said Kozi Kidz is looking at growing into other markets, such as Russia and Chile, and developing its exposure in the US.
He added that Kozi Kidz is providing garments similar in style to that of Superdry, but for an age group it doesn’t cater for. This includes a one-piece outfit and jogger style tops and bottoms. “Our line stops where Superdry starts, so there is no crossover and allows us to fill a gap in the market that isn’t being catered for.”
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