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Today's news...3/21/05

MARCH 21, 2005 -- First ispo China Was A Winner

ispo China 05 was based on the premise that the show should showcase world brands to the Chinese sporting goods market. The concept worked. Taking place at the Shanghai New International Expo Center, it was a success for exhibitors. There were full aisles in Hall W1 during the time ISG was present. (Much more on the show and the Chinese market will be found in April and May SGB).

More than 13,000 trade visitors were recorded on the first three visitor days. Approximately two-thirds of the trade visitors came from China. The remainder came from the countries neighboring China. There was an especially high share of visitors from the Asia-Pacific region. After years of exhibiting overseas, Mueller Sports Medicine had its first-ever contact with an Indian customer, for example. "A professional trade fair such as ispo China steers the development of our industry in the right direction," said An Huiming, vice chairman of the China General Chamber of Commerce. "ispo China with all of its offers and its value as a communication platform is precisely the kind of event, which we always wanted."

One hundred forty-eight companies with a total of 180 brands presented their current sports equipment and retailers. "Our 'brands only' concept was oriented exclusively to internationally active brands. Consequently, ispo China represents the first meeting place for international sports brands and professional retailers in the Asia-Pacific region and makes exchanges of information about high quality brand products possible for the first time," according to Manfred Wutzlhofer, CEO of Messe Muenchen GmbH.

A special highlight was the ispo China retail conference by W.L.Gore, which provided retailers with information about stock and order management, marketing and use of staff. A large number of participants, approximately 250, attended this event. The presentations by WGSN and Promostyl were also completely booked with more than 100 participants each. The trade visitors were also greatly interested in the sports events, such as the first Shanghai Skate Masters and the Climbing Wall.

The last day of ispo China 05, Thursday, March 17, 2005, was open to the public. There was some talk at the show that a winter show in Beijing would be much more convenient for the snow sports retailers in Northern China. A summer show might be held in Shanghai, but there has been no decision regarding future venues.


VF Buys Reef Holdings

VF Corp. signed a definitive agreement to acquire all the outstanding stock of Reef Holdings Corp. from an investor group led by majority shareholder Swander Pace Capital. Terms were not disclosed. Based in San Diego, Reef is a leader in the growing action sports lifestyle market. The company is the global market leader in premium surf-inspired footwear and in 2004 launched an authentic surf apparel line. Reef had sales of $75 million in 2004 excluding royalties, and is looking forward to another year of double-digit growth in 2005. Reef is expected to contribute about $45 million to sales, be neutral to EPS in 2005 and accretive in 2006.

Reef will remain headquartered in San Diego and will become part of VF's expanding Outdoor coalition. Outdoor coalition sales exceeded the $1 billion mark in 2004, and have grown nearly seven-fold over the past five years.


SIA Corrects Retail Sales Data

SnowSports Industries America recently reported dollar and unit sales for specialty ski and snowboards stores as well as overall industry sales for the reporting period of August 2004-January 2005. However, after further analysis, a calculation error was determined by Leisure Trends Group which conducts the Retail Audit.

In the release distributed earlier this month, SIA reported that overall sales for the entire winter sport market (including specialty and chain stores) were up 2.8% in dollars to $1.76 billion for the August 2004 through January 2005 period and unit sales were down 7.3%. In actuality, the report now shows that sales were flat in dollar sales at $1.7 billion and unit sales were down 10.0%.

It was also reported in the same release that sales at specialty ski and snowboard shops were up 2.6% compared to last season translating to $1.37 billion in sales while unit sales were down 2.6%. In actuality, specialty store totals for season-to-date sales figures now report a 2% decrease in dollars, which translates to $1.3 billion in sales while unit sales were down 6.6%.

By the time that the correction is spread across all categories and brands, the effect is minimal. All previously released reports were not affected nor were the current period January figures.


Cherokee Will Represent Roots In US

Cherokee signed an exclusive agreement with Roots Canada to represent the Roots brand in the US. Under the terms of the agreement, Cherokee will engineer strategic retail direct licensing opportunities for the Canadian athletic lifestyle brand. The company attracted attention with its USA cap.

Established in Toronto in 1973 by Michael Budman and Don Green, Roots offers a wide range of quality clothing, leather goods and accessories for men and women of all ages. Licensed products include shoes, hosiery, fashion accessories, eyewear, watches, luggage, linens, home furnishings, and more. Roots is associated with the Olympic Games and has outfitted teams from the US, Canada, Great Britain and Barbados. The privately owned company operates nearly 150 branded stores in Canada, six in the US and 15 in Taiwan.


UK News From SGBUK: Merrell and Ecco

Merrell has produced a unique Spring/Summer advertising campaign by transforming taxis in several major cities into examples of Merrell footwear. From March, selected black cabs across the UK will be covered in a 3-D graphic of the popular Chameleon Slam shoe. Flip-seat advertising and branded receipt pads are also included in the campaign. This quirky initiative will operate across nine cities in total: Bristol, Edinburgh, Leeds, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Oxford, Reading and Sheffield.

Ecco has just opened its flagship store on London's Oxford Street. The interior features a revolutionary lighting system on the rear wall in which to frame products and create a strong focal point in the store. Philip Beaven, head of retail, Ecco UK, commented: "The introduction of the latest Ecco concept at our flagship store in Oxford Street situated opposite Selfridges, signals a significant time for us. Ecco is continually striving to adapt and create new opportunities within the footwear market. This new concept allows us to showcase our product as never seen before to both the consumer and the industry; our core styling is still very much in evidence but coupled with a move forward in contemporary fashion."



Euro News From SAZ: Kettler, Hervis And Marker

One of the most influental personalities the German sporting goods industry is dead: Heinz Kettler passed away on March 5, shortly before his 79th birthday. The Kettler company will remain the property of the family. The group will be led by Matthias Sobania, who has already been member of the management. Heinz Kettler founded his company in 1949 and started with the production of household products. In 1951 he offered aluminum dishes for camping. In 1961, when turnover, generated by 160 employees, was already as high as DM 25 million, he launched the extremely popular Kettcar, followed by sleighs (1968), foldable bikes (1969), table tennis tables (1974) and the first aluminum bike (1977). Kettler remains the German fitness market leader.

Hervis, an Austrian sporting goods chain, plans to open 10 new outlets in Central and Eastern Europe. Hervis now operates 68 stores in its home market and 18 abroad: Hungary (five), 10 more stores in the East: in Brno, Karlsbad, Zlin, and Chodov (all in the Czech Republic); Mom-Park, Kecskemet and Szombathely in Hungary; and Nova Goriza, Ptuj and Marburg in Slovenia

German retail giant Metro was the loser in a law case involving Marker. Metro had offered in its cash & carry outlets skis with Marker bindings, promising that the bindings could be adjusted by the consumer itself. A Munich court acknowledged Marker's claim that this would not be legal according to German product safety legislation and the corresponding advertisements would be misleading.


Backcountry.com reported results for FY04. The company posted an 84% year-over-year increase to sales of more than $27 million. 2004 also featured record-breaking activity for single-day sales and single-day shipments.


The National Shooting Sports Foundation appointed Christopher Dolnack as its new SVP. Dolnack, whose 20-year career includes diverse experience across the hunting and shooting industry, as well as nine years with NSS, will oversee all NSSF programs, communications, membership and industry services. Previously, he served as managing director of program development for NSSF.


Pinnacle Entertainment has entered into agreements to sell a total of 38.5 acres of land to Cabela's. The land, adjacent to the company’s Boomtown Reno property in northern Nevada, is intended for the construction of a 150,000-square-foot Cabela's retail store.


Bass Pro Shops will build a 60,000-square-foot store with a 9,000-square-foot marina at the Branson Landing development (MO). This is much larger than its original plan for 40,000-60,000 square feet.


Legg Mason analyst Scott Devitt lowered GSI Commerce to hold from buy, following news from Palm that its business is soft. Palm, he said, represents some 15% of GSI's business. GSI said it remains comfortable with its 1Q05 and FY05 that was previously announced on February 16, 2005. "We are very pleased with the performance of our business so far this year," said Michael Rubin, COB/CEO of GSI Commerce.


Kelty Packs received a specialty contract from the US State Department for the purchase of 110,000 daypacks. The packs will be filled with basic school supplies and distributed by the State Department to school-age children in 13 countries.


LaCrosse Footwear announced that George Schneider, 82, the company's COB for 23 years, passed away on Friday, March 18, after a brief illness. Effective immediately Richard Rosenthal will assume the duties of COB for LaCrosse Footwear. "While we are saddened by the passing of Dad, we are very fortunate to have Dick Rosenthal assume the duties as our new cxhairman. I know my father would have been very pleased to know that Dick will succeed in the chairman's role, as a leader of LaCrosse Footwear," said CEO Joe Schneider.



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Categories
Back-to-school shopping
Lacrosse
Chinese market
Holding companies
Sporting goods industry

Companies
Roots
Ecco SA
Shanghai New International Expo Center
China General Chamber of Commerce
GSI Commerce Inc.

Concepts
SPORTING GOODS
unit sales
trade visitors
market leader
flagship store

People
Merrell
SIA
Manfred Wutzlhofer
Heinz Kettler
Michael Budman


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