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Wellington, NZ and Portland, OR, USA (14 April 2008) â€“ Icebreaker, the New Zealand-based, environmentally-driven leader in outdoor apparel made from pure merino wool, is on the move again announcing today that it has hired sportswear veteran Russ Hopcus as president of its fast-growing US company starting May 15, 2008.
â€œWe win through people, we’re building the dream team here, and having Russ as our new US leader is a cornerstone,â€ said Icebreaker Founder and CEO Jeremy Moon. â€œHaving Russ join us to run the fast paced US business is a clear signal of the level of excitement and opportunity that we have ahead of us at Icebreaker,â€ added Tony Balfour, General Manager – Markets. â€œI know Russ can’t wait to bring his skill set and experience to accelerate the enormous opportunities we have in the US, and neither can we.â€
Hopcus was senior vice president of sales for adidas USA from 2005-2008, leading a team of more than 200 people and with sales of more than $1 billion. From 2002-2005, he held other senior management positions at adidas USA including directing national footwear and accessory sales. From 2000-2002 he was director of global sales and international general manager for Nike’s ACG outdoor business. From 1991-2000 he held a number of leadership positions at Nike in footwear and sales management. Hopcus, a keen sportsman with a very active outdoor lifestyle, is a graduate of California State University, Northridge.
â€œFrom the moment I tried my first piece of Icebreaker apparel, I was blown away by how it performs,â€ said Hopcus. â€œI’m very excited to be part of a team that â€˜gets it.’ Icebreaker has a great brand proposition, phenomenal product and a terrific group of people. I’m looking forward to building on the momentum that has already been created here in the US.â€
Icebreaker has firmly established itself as the clear leader in the booming merino wool apparel category â€“ a category that it pioneered. It’s USA business has more than doubled in the last 24 months and with more and more consumers making the switch from synthetic fabrics to sustainable and renewable merino â€“ Icebreaker fully expects growth to accelerate further. This is a sentiment shared by retailers who are universally seeing Icebreaker as a key growth story in the outdoor industry.
Hopcus lives in Portland, Oregon, which is also the new home of Icebreaker’s U.S. headquarters. In January 2007, the company announced it would relocate its U.S. offices from Ketchum, Idaho, to Portland and opened its Global Apparel Design Studio there. Icebreaker maintains a design team in New Zealand that serves as the core directive for the brand’s clean aesthetic and lifestyle crossover appeal. The first Icebreaker Touch_Lab retail store opened in Portland in December 2007 on NW 11th and Burnside Streets. The company also sells in the U.S. online at www.icebreaker.com.
Each garment in the Icebreaker line of outerwear, mid layer, and underwear is made from merino wool. Finer and softer than traditional wool, merino is technically more complex than synthetics, naturally providing the most effective and comfortable protection for every weather condition.
Not all wool is created equal. To procure the perfect fiber, Icebreaker partners with New Zealand’s leading high country stations where conditions are severe and grazing altitudes reach 7,000 feet. From this clean, mountainous environment comes the best merino in the world. Each bale of merino is certified for quality and is tested for fineness, strength, length, color and purity. As a result, Icebreaker garments are silky soft, insulate beautifully, breath effectively, and don’t itch or hold odor.
â€œNature is an astonishing designer,â€ says Moon. â€œOur high-performance ecologically sound clothing system is based on respect of the environment, ethics and sustainability. This is a natural choice in an age of synthetics. We hope our clothing allows our customers to reconnect with nature.â€
Founded in 1994 and based in Wellington, New Zealand, Icebreaker created an entirely new clothing category: merino outdoor clothing. With its business growing fast globally, Icebreaker is now the largest merino apparel company in the world, with its fiber being produced by merino sheep in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. Icebreaker is now available at nearly 2,000 stores in 30 countries throughout Europe, Asia, Australasia and North America. The company is committed to sustainability, ethical manufacturing, supply chain transparency, and animal welfare.
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