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Over the years, companies representing various sports have made their way onto the show floor at the outdoor industry’s biggest trade show, Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City. The most notable growth seems to be with running, both trail and road.
W.L. Gore noticed it years ago, said Matt Schreiner, who specializes in global outdoor footwear business for the company, and over the past six years has been partnering with running manufacturers. The latest is Saucony, which will release a few new products featuring Gore-Tex technology at the upcoming Outdoor Retailer Summer Market.
Schreiner said when Gore looks for partners, it tends to gravitate toward companies with similar business philosophies and proven track records.
When Wolverine announced plans to acquire Collective Brands performance and lifestyle marks, including Saucony, back in May (a deal that’s almost final), Saucony and Gore decided to bring to life the plans they’d discussed for a few years.
“Wolverine is a long-term partner of ours,” Schreiner said, adding that the two companies have been doing business together for some 15 years, starting with the Merrell brand. But it’s not just Wolverine — Gore has partnered with other shoe companies including Nike, Salomon, New Balance, Brooks, Adidas and Inov8.
Though the Xodus 3.0 and Aventerra GTX both were introduced last Summer Outdoor Retailer; Saucony will bring the Guide 6 GTX (MSRP $120) to this summer’s show. The piece which has a waterproof, breathable Gore-Tex upper with a HydraMAX collar lining and a ComfortLite sockliner.
It’s a take on a popular road show Saucony has offered for many years called the Guide.
It was a smart move to collaborate with running companies, Schreiner said, because it made the company more versatile and visible to consumers.
“Saucony is just the icing on the cake,” Schreiner said. “They’re a great brand and we’re really proud of adding them to the portfolio. We think with Saucony we have the breadth and scope we need to be successful in the global running market.”
Gore will continue to look for partners, Schreiner said.
“We’re always looking to partner with innovative brands that really do one, and ideally all, of three things,” Schreiner said. “The first is bringing new designs and innovation to the market; second is help us access new meaningful distribution; and three, bring us to a completely new consumer that would marry well with our brand partners.”