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Outdoor: Did you hear?…

Timberland reports Q4 earnings, ispo visited by 55,000, Igloo Vikski donates product to Porters Progress, OIWC expands sponsor's roster, Tubbs raises $15K for breast cancer research, plus much more...

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>> The Timberland Company (NYSE: TBL) reported fourth quarter net income of $39.5 million and diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.10, compared with fourth quarter 2002 net income of $27.1 million and diluted EPS of $0.73. Fourth quarter revenue increased 16.4 percent to $415.3 million, driven by strong global gains in footwear, according to the company. Footwear sales climbed about 21 percent ($320.3 million), led by growth in boots, men’s and women’s casual, and outdoor performance shoes. The New Hampshire-based company is benefiting from expanded distribution through large retailers such as Nordstrom and Foot Locker. “(Timberland) indicated that it will continue to do more business with some of the big department store chains, such as Nordstrom, and less business with some of the independent retail (stores) … an important part of its distribution strategy in this country,” according to one Wells Fargo Securities analyst. Timberland’s results were helped by cold weather in certain areas of the United States in December, which boosted sales of boots and outdoor apparel. The company’s apparel business, which accounts for less than a quarter of total sales, posted sales growth of 2.9 percent to $91.0 million, driven by gains in Timberland’s Asian business, which offset declines in European apparel impacted by comparisons to strong prior year performance. For the full year, Timberland posted revenue of $1,342.1 million (+12.7 percent versus prior year, or +8.0 percent in constant dollars), operating profit of $184.3 million (+32.8 percent versus prior year) and generated nearly $200 million in net operating cash flow.

>> GERMANY Overall numbers for the 1.7-million-square-foot ispo sporting goods show were huge. Over its four-day run, the show racked up more than 55,000 attendees or about a 17 percent increase in trade visitors. (Ed. Note: ispo management must have used new math in calculating a 25 percent increase in visitors based on an increase of 8,000 over last year’s 47,000 attendees.) There were 1,691 exhibitors from 47 countries, up just over 11 percent from last year’s 1,517 exhibitors from 43 countries. (Ed. Note: Again, ispo used new math to come up with a 15 percent increase. Huh?) Some 344 exhibitors were from Germany — actually fewer from the show’s home country than last year’s 360 — with the next largest countries represented being Italy (201), Taiwan (172), the Czech Republic (156) and Pakistan (99). From the United States came 64 exhibitors and from Canada were 32. “The international sporting goods market is on the upswing,” said Manfred Wutzlhofer, CEO of the Munich trade show group, Messe Muenchen GmbH. In an independent survey at the show, top grades by attendees were given to the ski show (97 percent said it was outstanding) and the outdoor show (92 percent said it was outstanding).

>> Canadian-based Igloo Vikski, distributors of Kayland footwear, turned obsolete and warranty claimed items building up in its warehouse into an eight-duffel donation of used boots to Porters Progress in Nepal. Porters Progress has offices located in Kathmandu and Lukla, and operates with the mission of facilitating the safe treatment, education and empowerment of Nepali mountain porters. Porters Progress seeks to harness the strength of Nepali Mountain Porters to bring about positive and appropriate social change in Nepal and will donate the boots to porters in need. Employees from Kayland North America and its distributor, Igloo-Vikski, volunteered their time in the fall of 2003 to organize the warranties that have accumulated over several years.

>> The Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition has added eight companies to its sponsor roster. Black Diamond, Burton Snowboards, Columbia, Exel, K2, Polartec, Timberland and Primaloft have joined current sponsors REI, W.L. Gore & Associates, Fox River, Mountain Hardwear, Jansport, Tubbs Snowshoes, Karhu USA, Stonewear Designs, Marmot, The North Face and OutdoorMind.

>> West Marine, Inc. (Nasdaq:WMAR), a specialty retailer of boating supplies and apparel with 346 stores, reported that net sales for the four weeks ended Jan. 31, 2004, were $31.4 million, a 28.2 percent increase from net sales of $24.5 million for the four-week period a year ago. Comparable store net sales for January increased 15.3 percent compared to the same period a year ago. Sales from 62 BoatU.S. stores acquired in January 2003 from Boat America are included in total sales, but are not reflected in comparable store sales statistics. The company forecasts first-quarter revenue of $126 million to $128 million and a loss per share of 17 cents to 19 cents.

>> GERMANYLeading Germany outdoor manufacturer Jack Wolfskin is investing a pile of change in brand awareness by contracting with a German TV show the likes of ESPN’s SportCenter for 25-second primetime commercials. The goal, CEO Manfred Hell, told SNEWS®, is to make the industry and specialty manufacturers like himself appear less elite and to “contribute to the broadening of the word-of-mouth for the outdoor industry as a whole.” Hell said, “As a market leader, we have to do something for the industry. We need to move away from the emphasis on price and show that we have products and brands.” That, he said, could bring new customers not only to the Wolfskin brand but also to the industry as a whole. The ads begin this week and will run through May, then will start again in the fall and run through the winter.

>> On Jan. 24, Tubbs Snowshoes and the Vermont Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation held their second annual “Romp to Stomp Out Breast Cancer” Snowshoe Series at Stratton Mountain, attracting 250 participants and raising $15,000 for the foundation. The event, consisting of both a snowshoe fun run as well as an easy snowshoe walk, raises money from the participants’ pledges as well as direct donations. All the money raised through the event goes to the Susan G. Komen Foundation and its local affiliates, to benefit breast cancer research, education and screening.

>> GERMANY When SNEWS® received its invitation for the Gore-Tex Gloves Snowball Games to take place at the ispo sporting goods show in Munich, we were all over it, plotting strategy and imagining a football field full of snow in a ballroom indoors. Whoa, what an evening it would be! Then we found it was not about PARTICIPATING in a snowball fight, but WATCHING one. Wait, we didn’t think snowball fights were a spectator sport. Nevertheless, we were open-minded and showed up anyway, still hopeful for a few laughs. Hmmmmmm, somebody in Germany’s Gore-Tex HQ had thought waaaaay too hard about this and come up with a terribly over-complicated set of rules for a tournament with eight teams of eight. This included elimination rounds with three periods of three minutes each, uniform pre-made snowballs on silver trays for all, a rule against making your own ammunition from the snow on the playing field, referees that blew whistles often and seemingly randomly (since anytime someone got hit with a snowball by the opposing team the player was eliminated), and … oh gosh … we don’t really know the rest of the rules. Unfortunately, despite loads of promotional bucks being spent and a lot of fanfare, most of the announced 1,500 attendees ate their German version of Spam sandwiches (Leberkaese) on white rolls and skedaddled out. Yes, SNEWS admits it only lasted about 45 minutes into the tournament that we hear took nearly two hours. The next day we even asked a “celebrity German athlete” who was on one of the teams who actually won the rather contrived sports event and, well, he didn’t even know since he said his team was eliminated early. He added with a slightly guilty tone that they then retreated to a corner to drink beer “with only one eye on the games.” We also heard that the band after the games took so long to set up that most of the crowd that hadn’t left took off then. Of course, the biggest question is this: If the goal was to introduce the new XCR glove, yet nobody in attendance even got to look at one, touch one or try on one, what was the point? Certainly not the Spam sandwich.

>> Jake Thamm, president of Crescent Moon, told SNEWS® that the company is reducing the prices of its Gold series of snowshoes by nearly 10 percent for the 2004/05 season. The Boulder-based company continues to manufacture and assemble its entire line of products in its 2,200-square-foot facility employing 10 people during the season and Thamm tells us he is set up to respond to orders as they are received. “We’re a small, but very responsive manufacturer and in the snowshoe industry, we are all dependent upon the vagaries of weather. When it snows, we get orders for immediate ship and timing is critical to the sales of these products. With our just-in-time set up, we can offer any retailer the confidence and assurance of a quick and timely delivery from September through January.”

>> GERMANY According to Europe’s two lead buying groups, Sport 2000 and Intersport, the top outdoor/ski brand and one of their top 20 strongest suppliers for 2003 is Salomon (No. 5 by Sport 2000 and No. 3 by Intersport). In addition, on Sport 2000’s list, in order, are HTM (Head, Tyrolia, Mares), No. 6; Amer Group (Atomic, Suunto), No. 7; Lowa, No. 9; Jack Wolfskin, No. 11; Schoeffel, No. 12; and K2, No. 13. On the Intersport list, Schoeffel is all the way up at No. 5, followed by Amer Sports, No. 6; Lowa, No. 8; HTM, No. 9; K2, No. 10; MTV (Voelkl, Marker, Tecnica), No. 11. On both lists, athletic shoe and apparel manufacturers lead the way with adidas and Nike taking the top two slots in that order, while Asics leaped into the No. 3 position for Sport 200 and was in fourth for Intersport.

>> GERMANYNot to completely curse Gore-Tex promotions at the ispo show: The company has sponsored a lounge for ispo card holders (cards that get members all kinds of worthwhile discounts and benefits) for the last couple of years and gets all kinds of great exposure. Not the least being all the sugar packets used at the coffee service being emblazoned with the Gore-Tex logo. That’s soooo sweet!

>> GERMANY The best sponsoring at the show: We always LOVE the manhole covers that are logo’ed with one company or another, a sponsorship that tens of thousands of ispo attendees have to walk over when traversing from underground station to convention center entrance. This year, Columbia nabbed half of them.

>> Gregor Furrer has handed over the leadership of Voelkl AG in Switzerland to his son Reto. Reto Furrer has been training for the last seven years in various positions all across Voelkl International company. The change will be effective April 1. Gregor Furrer will remain as chairman of the board for Voelkl AG in Switzerland.

>> Watershed USA, distributor of Nikwax waterproofing, recently presented Yukon Trading Company with the DWR (Damn Wonderful Rep) Award for 2003. In a prepared statement, Mike Curtis of Watershed noted that, “Morrie Trautman and his crew earned the DWR award as a result of substantial sales growth, the addition of nearly 40 new accounts and overall excellent service.”

>> Outlast Technologies, Inc. has hired Janie Lowe as vice president of design and development. Lowe has been consulting with Outlast for the past year, collaborating on new fabric coating processes and in-fiber development with the company’s global knitting and fiber partners. Most recently Lowe worked for the Salomon Design Center.

>> Planet Dog has hired Robert Morin as product development manager. Morin is responsible for effectively sourcing both existing and new products from conception through production. In addition, Scott Meade joins Planet Dog as a sales rep for New Jersey, John Melton joins Planet Dog as a sales rep for Maryland, and Karen Moran joins Planet Dog as a sales rep for Pennsylvania.

>> Bill Dodge has been promoted to marketing manager for Dunham. In this new role, Dodge will be responsible for all aspects of the Dunham product development team including product marketing, research and development, and design, with a specific focus on the outdoor performance category. For the past four years, Dodge has been the national sales manager for Dunham.

>> Timberland has promoted Noel Rix to the position of vice president of global footwear development and Bruce Todtfeld to the position of vice president of global category management – boots. Rix will oversee product development efforts across Timberland categories worldwide. Todtfeld will be responsible for Timberland’s men’s and women’s boot categories on a worldwide basis.