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Today's News...2/7/05

FEBRUARY 07, 2005 -- Puma U.S. Sales Surge

Puma AG said sales in the U.S. vaulted 39.7% to $76 million from $54.4 million in U.S. dollars. For the year, U.S. sales climbed 21% to $307.9 million U.S. from $255.4 million U.S.

Overall, Puma's 4Q04 profits improved 51.3% to 37.1 million euros from $24.5 million euros. Sales advanced 20% to $273.4 euros from 227.7 euros. By product category, footwear sales grew to 175.9 million euros from $140.4 million euros; apparel increased to 76.6 million euros from 68.8 million euros, and accessories grew to 20.9 million euros from 18.5 million euros.

For the year, Puma's income rose 43.5% to 257.3 euros from 179.4 euros; sales advanced 20.1% to 1.53 billion euros from 1.27 billion euros.

"Our Q4 results provide us with a strong ending to another very positive year for Puma in which we established new benchmarks in sales and profitability. In particular, our results have given us excellent strategic flexiblity as we progress towards the completion of our Phase III and in preparation of Phase IV of the company's development plan."

Looking to 2005, sales are expected to show a mid-to-high single digit growth on a currency neutral basis, which would be the slowest pace for seven years. Puma cited lackluster spending in European markets such as Germany, France and the U.K. As of Dec. 31, currency-adjusted orders were up 17.7%. In segments, footwear orders were up 14.7% (18.7% adjusted for currencies) to 580 million euros; apparel was ahead 7.8% (10.6% adjusted for currencies) to 196 million euros; and accessories was up 36.2% (40.3 percent adjusted for currencies) to 46 million euros.

Louisiana's Supreme Court Rejects Bass Pro TIF

Sales tax money already dedicated to schools, police and other public bodies in Livingston Parish cannot be used to help lure a large Bass Pro Shops development to Denham Springs unless voters approve the plan, Louisiana's Supreme Court ruled Friday, according to a report from The Associated Press .

"We find that the taxing authorities cannot unilaterally, without the acquiescence of the voters, use otherwise dedicated public funds to finance this project," the ruling, written by Justice Chet Traylor said. There were no dissents.

In what's turned out to be one of the hottest economic development issues in the Baton Rouge area in years, supporters of using the money for the Bass Pro development said it would generate $135 million in sales within three years.

Although some local officials have previously maintained that attracting the company to Denham Springs depended upon a favorable ruling by the Supreme Court, Parish President Mike Grimmer said Friday the parish has other avenues it will use and hasn't given up on attracting the sporting goods giant.

The Denham Springs Economic District proposed to buy 27 acres of land and lease the tract to the Denham Springs Economic Development Corp., which would oversee construction of the project and lease the land to the current owner, who would sublease the land to Bass Pro. The economic district proposed to issue up to $50 million in bonds to pay for the infrastructure, construction of the Bass Pro building and the interest to bond holders during construction, according to the bond attorneys. Under the proposal, the bonds would be paid off by using a portion of sales taxes generated in that 27 acres and the rest of the 75 acre retail development that would surround it.

Simmons Joins Prince Sports

Prince Sports appointed Jay Simmons to Senior Category Director, Tennis Balls & Recreational Racquets. Simmons will relocate from Phoenix to Prince's Bordentown , N.J. , headquarters with his new position, effective immediately. In his new role, Simmons will be responsible for the launch of Prince into the tennis ball category. In addition, he will lead the product development efforts for key accounts in both tennis and racquetball. Simmons was most recently Senior Business Manager for Head/Penn.

"Jay will be a valuable addition to our executive team with his solid background in the tennis industry coupled with his sales experience," said Howard Lay, VP Product Management at Prince. "His knowledge and expertise will help to contribute to the success of the brand not only in these specific areas but throughout the entire business."

Brunswick Corp. Makes Appointments

Brunswick Corp. announced today several executive management moves affecting its marine, fitness and bowling and billiards businesses.

Peter B. Hamilton, vice chairman and president - Brunswick Bowling & Billiards, will become president of Brunswick's Life Fitness Division. He will report to Chairman and ceo Officer George W. Buckley. Hamilton has been in charge of bowling and billiards since 2000, and originally joined Brunswick in 1995 as its senior vice president and chief financial officer.

"A stalwart on our corporate staff, Peter has further distinguished himself as an excellent leader in operations, overseeing the revitalization and expansion of our bowling and billiards operations, including significant improvement of its operating margins and financial performance," Buckley said.

At Life Fitness, Hamilton will succeed Kevin S. Grodzki, who has headed the fitness segment since 2000. Grodzki will become president of Mercury Marine's MerCruiser operations, the maker of sterndrive engines and a unit of Mercury Marine. Grodzki will report to Patrick C. Mackey, president - Mercury Marine.

"Under Kevin's guidance, Life Fitness has brought more than 100 new products to market," Buckley said. "He also has been instrumental in ensuring that Life Fitness has the proper global manufacturing footprint to both better serve our markets and customers as well as improve productivity. Kevin has led Life Fitness' growth in Europe, including the establishment of two new plants in Hungary."

Grodzki will replace John W. S. Ward, currently president - Mercury MerCruiser. Ward will return to Brunswick's Boston Whaler offshore fishing boat operations, where he once was svp of sales and marketing, to become president of Boston Whaler. Ward will replace Michael W. Myers, who recently was promoted to president - Saltwater Boat Group, which includes the Boston Whaler, Sea Pro, Sea Boss and Palmetto brands. Ward will report to Myers.

"John Ward is a marine industry veteran with a record of accomplishment on both the boat and engine sides of the business," Buckley said. "He will strengthen an already capable management team that will greatly improve our presence in the growing offshore, saltwater fishing market."

Stepping into Hamilton's role will be John E. Stransky, who is being promoted from president - Brunswick Billiards. In his new duties as president - Brunswick Bowling & Billiards, Stransky will report to Buckley as well as continue to be responsible for billiards until a replacement is named. Stransky has led billiards since 1998, where he has overseen a very successful and comprehensive re-branding effort.

All changes are effective immediately, according to Buckley.

Spy Optic's Parent Hires General Counsel

Orange 21 Inc., which makes sunglasses and goggles are marketed under Spy Optic, announced that Tracy Meier has joined the company as vp and General Counsel. Meier most recently served as the chief legal counsel at Biolase Technology, Inc.

"Tracy joins Orange 21 with nearly 20 years of legal experience at a number of high growth public companies," said Barry Buchholtz, Chief Executive Officer. "As a newly public company, we will benefit from her expertise in corporate governance, SEC compliance and operations. Furthermore, as we look to grow the company by expanding our marketing and distribution efforts throughout the United States and internationally and developing and acquiring new products and brands, Tracy's background in corporate law, including product distribution and manufacturing collaborations, will help us to achieve our goals."

DiRienzo Joins Ocean Pacific As Designer

Ocean Pacific (Op) today announced the appointment of Stefanie DiRienzo as vice president of design services, effective Feb. 1. Prior to joining Op, DiRienzo was director of women’s retail at Lucky. She additionally held senior-level merchandising and design positions with Guess, French Connection, Limited Brands Inc. and J. Crew, and consulted at Kate Spade and Burberry. DiRienzo will oversee all aspects of apparel and accessories development, integrating Op’s brand sensibilities into its products and packaging. She will report directly to Op President Dick Baker and will work out of Op’s Orange County headquarters.

"Stefanie has a 360-degree view of brand management at the highest levels of global fashion," says Baker. "She’s a surfer, she gets what we’re about, and her creative and merchandising talents will be a critical addition."

LaCrosse Footwear 4Q04 Net Rises 96%

LaCrosse Footwear, Inc. reported net income was $2.2 million, or $0.37 per share, in the fourth quarter of 2004, up 96% from $1.1 million, or $0.19 per share, in the
fourth quarter of 2003. Consolidated net sales of $28.7 million in 4Q04, up 5% from $27.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2003.

For the full year 2004, net income was $7 million, or $1.15 per share, up 165% from $2.6 million, or $0.44 per share, in 2003.For the full year 2004, net sales were $105.5 million, up 10% from $95.7 million in 2003.

The company has successfully increased sales of both its work (formerly called "occupational") and outdoor (formerly "recreational") footwear.

Work sales were $15.7 million for the fourth quarter and $60.7 million for the full year 2004, up from $14.5 million and $51.9 million, respectively, for the same periods in 2003. The growth in work sales for the year spanned multiple product categories, including boots for public safety, general work and firefighting.

Outdoor sales were $13.0 million for the fourth quarter and $44.8 million for the full year 2004, up from $12.8 million and $43.8 million, respectively, for the same periods in 2003. The growth in outdoor sales for
the year included stronger penetration into the outdoor rugged/casual and hunting markets.

"We are pleased with our growth in sales, gross margins and earnings for the quarter and the year," said Joseph P. Schneider, President and CEO of
LaCrosse Footwear, Inc. "During 2004, we turned an important corner, refocusing on profitable sales growth and increasing our brand equity in both the work and outdoor footwear markets. The increase in sales was driven primarily by the success of our innovative new products, such as our Quad Comfort(TM) line of LaCrosse work boots and our Danner Pronghorn(TM) hunting boots, selected "Best of the Best" for 2004 by Field & Stream magazine. We also did an excellent job of fulfilling the GSA requirements efficiently and
on schedule."

Genesco Reffirms Guidance

Genesco Inc., which owns Hat World, says it is still satisfied with its previously announced earnings guidance for the fourth quarter and fiscal year 2005.

In November, the company (NYSE: GCO) lifted its outlook for fiscal 2005, predicting earnings per share of $2.01 to $2.02 on sales of about $1.1 billion. Included in the guidance are charges of 7 cents to 8 cents per share, substantially from the shuttering of Jarman and other underperforming stores.

Genesco will publish its results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year March 3.

Burton Golf Relaunches Custom Bag Program

Burton Golf announced a re-launch of its Burton Original custom golf bag program. Burton Golf is now able to complete all Burton Original orders in five to 10 business days from receipt of order. Burton said most customer golf bag programs require six to eight weeks from start to finish. However, Burton has trimmed the process to less than 10 days due to dramatic improvements and increased efficiencies in the order-taking, logo set-up and manufacturing processes.

"Lead times of less than two weeks are unheard of in the completely custom bag business," says Terry Andre, Burton Golf's senior vice president of sales and marketing. "We are proud and excited to offer this dramatic reduction in turnaround time for our golf professional, corporate, retail customers."

"Yoga In America" Survey

Yoga Journal, the country's leading yoga magazine, has released its second annual "Yoga in America" survey, a comprehensive study of the yoga market.

According to the study:
* Americans spend $2.95 billion a year on yoga classes and products, including equipment, clothing, vacations and media (DVDs, videos, books and
* 7.5% of U.S. adults, or 16.5 million people, now practice yoga, an increase of 5.6% from the prior year and 43% from 2002.
* Of the 16.5 million people now practicing yoga, the fastest growing segment is the 18-24 age group, which increased by a remarkable 46% in one year.
* Of the yoga practitioners surveyed, 77.1% are women; 22.9% are men.
* 35.8%, or 5.9 million people, have studied yoga for under 1 year; 44.7% or 7.4 million people, have studied more than two years.
* Almost one in seven non-practitioners, or about 25 million people, say they intend to try yoga within the next 12 months.

Data for this survey were collected by the Harris Interactive Service Bureau (HISB) on behalf of Yoga Journal, which performed the survey design and
data analysis. The poll surveyed over 4700 respondents.

Says John Abbott, president and CEO of Yoga Journal, "The fact that Americans spend nearly $3 billion a year on yoga and yoga-related items shows the financial vibrancy of the market. That the number of yoga practitioners has grown so strongly in the last ten years shows that yoga is not a passing fad but a genuine cultural phenomenon and an integral part of the wellness trend in this country."


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Puma U.S. Sales Surge
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Peter B. Hamilton
Stefanie DiRienzo
Prince Sports
John E. Stransky

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