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For the week of Dec. 7-13
>> Just in case you’d begun imagining that the fitness industry wasn’t paying much attention to the outdoor market, ACE (The American Council on Exercise) fires off a wake-up call with its fitness trend predictions for 2005. ACE surveys more than 3,000 ACE-certified fitness professionals to arrive at its conclusions. We’ll save you all the stuff about Pilates, yoga and Tai Chi, but point out that all eyes are firmly on recreation from the fitness side of the fence with the following two trend predictions: 1. An increase in family participation in outdoor fitness activities. More families will look for diverse and creative ways to be active together such as outdoor adventure activities and various recreational sports; and 2. Participation in physical activities for socialization and motivation will become more popular. Not everyone participates to compete. Joining a training group just to finish a marathon, triathlon or adventure race is a great way to meet people or include family and friends in a fit and active lifestyle. Still believe fitness enthusiasts are not our market?
>> Think engaged couples don’t give two twits about outdoor gear for wedding gifts? Think again! Since launching an integrated online, phone and store gift registry this spring, REI has seen registry sales to couples, their families and friends increase 70 percent in the first eight months. Rather than crystal glasses and silver serving bowls, favorite winter gear gifts in November for weddings included: snowshoes, adjustable snowshoe poles, snowboards, fleece pants, gloves and jackets. Couples planning weddings can create a gift registry at home, at REI.com or by phone, or select gear in a store using hand-held scanners to register items. Once created, the registry can be easily monitored and edited online. When a gift is purchased anywhere in the country, the integrated database is updated in near real time.
>> Kiva Designs, which has been working with travel author Rick Steves, (who also hosts his own PBS series “Rick Steves’ Europe”) for the last several years, has inked a deal to launch an expanded and exclusive collection of travel bags with the Rick Steves’ label. The new label will be designed, developed and distributed by Kiva with input from Steves and will debut at Winter Market in January.
>> If you were reading this weekend’s USA Weekend magazine, tucked into many Sunday editions around the country, you may have stumbled, as we did, across a story titled, “And you get paid for that?!” featuring four individuals the magazine said have dream jobs that are too good to be believed. There was a brewmaster who gets paid, to, well, drink beer, a professional shopper who gets paid to, well, shop, a test engineer who gets paid to, well, test video games, and a footwear designer for Timberland? OK, so Norm Gress has been sent to fashion shows in Italy and hiking treks in the French Alps to garner design ideas, but we’ve seen how hard those folks work. We just hope Jeff Schwartz, CEO of Timberland, doesn’t find out, because if Gress thinks he has a dream job we suspect next time salary discussions come up he’s going to hear something like, “remember that dream?”
>> If 2,000 readers who voted in Backpacker’s annual Readers’ Choice Award poll are to be believed, the outdoor industry might need to change its sales and marketing tactics. Amid all the predictable responses that name Yosemite as the favorite national park and California and Colorado as best hiking states, and Patagonia as the top apparel company, and The North Face as the favorite sleeping bag company on the strength of the Cat’s Meow (a bag that’s been in the line for at least a kajillion years), we discover that Angelina Jolie is the top choice for dream hiking partners, while Jesus comes in a distant 37th. Condoms are deemed more important as a top 10 hiking essential than a repair kit and on par with a drinking flask — which explains why Jolie received her high ranking, we suppose. There are other surprises too, but before you go out and put up Jolie pin-ups in the dressing room and stock the front counter with condoms adorned with outdoor images, you might want to read the issue yourself — on newsstands now.
>> Kelty has brought on Rob Walker and Greg Henderson as primary sales representatives in the New England region. Walker will handle northern New England from his base in North Conway, N.H. Henderson will cover the southern region from Old Lyme, Conn. In addition to Kelty, Walker and Henderson represent Sport Hill, Timex and Muck boots. Previously, they both worked with JanSport.
>> Gretchen Junker has filled Adventure Medical Kits’ operations manager position recently vacated by Ted Ganio who departed for Mountain Hardwear. Junker was former assistant product manager and assistant sales manager at Sierra Designs. Most recently, she was a business planner in charge of purchasing for The North Face’s sportswear product line.
>> Andrew Vecchione has been named COO of Malden Mills, effective immediately. Vecchione will be responsible for the Polartec brand globally, overseeing manufacturing, research and development, quality control and sourcing. SNEWS® View: Adding another piece to the puzzle that Spillane talks about in our Dec. 9 headline story on Malden and the union vote. Make no mistake — Vecchione is being brought in and will ultimately be judged by his ability to accelerate product development timelines and improve on-time delivery (a continued sore spot with many of the company’s customers still). Vecchione has the pedigree to get the job to, that’s for sure, with over 30 years of prior experience in manufacturing, apparel and textiles with expertise in business turnarounds, supply-chain management and strategic planning.
>> Outdoor Research has hired Great Plains Mountain Stuff to represent the brand in the Rocky Mountain territory. The team of Tom Gordon, Leta Sharpe and Kristen Turner joined the Outdoor Research rep force in November and will represent Outdoor Research and Exped products in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming. In addition to Outdoor Research and Exped, Great Plains Mountain Stuff represents Airboard, Atlas, Chaco, Osprey and Western Mountaineering. The team replaces veteran rep group Craig Donaldson & Associates, who represented OR in the Rockies for 18 years. Donaldson resigned the line in early November.
>> Johnson Outdoors has appointed Jervis Perkins as president, in addition to his duties as chief operating officer. “Jerry’s elevation to president reflects the confidence that both the board and I share in his abilities,” said Helen Johnson-Leipold, chairman and CEO of Johnson Outdoors. “Jerry has made significant contributions to our business since he joined us and his promotion is well-deserved.” Perkins has been with the company since January 2003.
>> Rocky Shoes & Boots Inc. has agreed to buy privately held EJ Footwear Group for $87.7 million in cash, plus 484,261 shares of Rocky common stock worth $10 million. “With this acquisition, we will more than double the size of our business, further diversify our operating platform, reduce seasonality, and significantly enhance our prospects for growth,” said Rocky CEO Mike Brooks in a statement. EJ Footwear is expected to have no debt and working capital of at least $53.1 million when the deal closes, which is expected in early January. The company is based in Franklin, Tenn., and consists of units EJ Footwear LLC, Georgia Boot LLC and HM Lehigh Safety Shoe Co.
>> Peter Harris is set to succeed West Marine’s John Edmonson as CEO on Jan. 3. Most recently, Harris was CEO of the San Francisco 49ers, and has worked for FAO Schwartz and Lucky stores. Harris will also become a member of the board.