ISSUE 1341 OCTOBER 14, 2013
The Weekly Digital Magazine for the Sporting Goods Industry
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ISSUE 1341 OCTOBER 14, 2013
The Weekly Digital Magazine for the Sporting Goods Industry Senior Business Editor Thomas J. Ryan firstname.lastname@example.org
Contributing Editors Aaron H. Bible, Bill Kendy, Charlie Lunan, Matt Powell
4 Movers & Shakers Reebok Opens First FitHub in Boston
Editorial & Creative Director Teresa Hartford email@example.com
6 Hydration Vests Face Marathon Bans
Senior Graphic Designer Camila Amortegui firstname.lastname@example.org
8 Nike Sets Target for Fiscal Year 2017 With Revenues of $36 Billion
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Wolverine Lifts Outlook on Robust Q3 22 I Am…SGB Danny Abshire, Co-Founder & Chief Financial Officer Newton Running
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GIVING BACK 10 Skechers Steps Up For Kids
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PRODUCT FOCUS 12 PowerICE Introduces a New Concept in Recovery Hydration
Print Magazine: SGB, SGB Performance Digital Magazines: SGB Weekly, TEAM Business Digital Newsletters: The B.O.S.S. Report Sports Executive Weekly News Updates: SGB, Footwear Business, Outdoor Business, Sportsman’s Business, TEAM Business
14 John Rogers, President Maine Running Company
16 A Visible Run Opportunity Scores of Options are Available to Light the Way for Night Runners.
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OCTOBER 14, 2013 | SGBWeekly.com
MOVERS & SHAKERS VF Corp. appointed Laurie Etheridge as president of Lucy Activewear. Etheridge was previously global SVP at Levi's for women's merchandising and design at Levi Strauss & Co. Klean Kanteen promoted Michael Duffy to director of sales, Erika Bruhn has been hired to be the director of marketing & brand and Phil Notheis joins the company as the director of product msnagement. Primaloft hired Eric Ritter as product development engineer and Jared Cieslewicz as a territory sales manager. Hillerich & Bradsby Co., maker of the Louisville Slugger, appointed three new board members. They include Doug Cobb, the former chairman and CEO of Appriss, David Heath, who recently retired as vice president of global sales for Nike, and Kirk Perry, president of Procter & Gamble’s global family care division. Joakim Noah, the star center of the Chicago Bulls, has officially signed an endorsement contract with Adidas. Billabong appointed Ed Leasure, former founder of Quiet Flight Surfboards, as acting president of the America’s division. Current Billabong America's President Colin Haggerty will return to his previous position as head of Billabong Retail. Skullcandy appointed Jason Hodell as chief financial officer, effective no later than November 4, 2013. He joins Skullcandy directly from Shopzilla. Bill Sweeney, who has spent the past three years as head of business development at Puma, has been hired as chief executive of the British Olympic Association. Sweeney directed Usain Bolt's commercial activities for Puma in connection with the 2012 London Olympics. 4 SGBWeekly.com | OCTOBER 14, 2013
REEBOK OPENS FIRST FITHUB IN BOSTON
Photos courtesy Reebok
Reebok is scheduled to open its second FitHub store in the U.S. in Boston in the South Shore Plaza. The retail/gym concept marks its first mall location. Currently, the only other FitHub in the U.S. is on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, with its own store front and attached gym. The retail store, which is part of a 20 store retail pilot program in the U.S. and U.K., (with 10 stores being opened in each market) is inspired by elements found in fitness studios, gyms and CrossFit boxes. Like a gym, the environment “is raw, creative and innovative with customers being immersed in fitness as soon as they enter the store.” Once inside, fitness enthusiasts can expect to receive expert advice, guidance and information on living a healthy lifestyle from the FitHub’s team of specialists who range from fully qualified personal trainers to Running, CrossFit, Dance and Yoga coaches. The staff includes a Reebok Fitness Ambassador, who will work to create strong partnerships between the store, its customers and the local fitness community. The FitHub location will also offer a range of inclusive sessions led by health and fitness experts from within the Reebok community, including a number of free workout classes each week. At the center of the store is the ‘Fit Desk’, where fitness fans can learn about Reebok and its latest product technologies. Uli Becker, President of Reebok North America, commented, “We’re extremely excited to open the first Reebok FitHub in our own backyard. The FitHub is perhaps the best example of our commitment to empowering people to live active, healthy lives. When consumers walk into our FitHubs, they receive a full fitness experience like no other. We believe the store can inspire people to get moving, and will become THE destination for the fitness community.” Reebok FitHub South Shore is part of an ever-expanding global network of concept stores, which includes the U.K., Korea, Russia, Dubai and other markets. Earlier this month, Reebok opened its first FitHub in the U.K. in London’s Covent Garden.
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HYDRATION VESTS FACE MARATHON BANS In the wake of the April 15 bombings at the Boston Marathon, both the New York City Marathon and Marine Corps Marathon have banned hydration vests. The list of banned items at the New York City Marathon includes strollers, vests with pockets, and “costumes covering the face or any non-formfitting, bulky outfits extending beyond the perimeter of the body.” Runners can continue to use fuel belts and hand-held water bottles.
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According to Runners World, New York Road Runners instituted the ban at all its events in April but sent a security update with a link to banned items via email to marathon registrant’s prompted Facebook discussion. Organizers of the Marine Corps Marathon said on its official website, “For marathoners, 10K participants and spectators, the following items are prohibited from entering any MCM event location: hydration vests and backpacks like CamelBaks, glass containers, masks, and flammable liquids.”
NEWS I FINANCIALS
WOLVERINE LIFTS OUTLOOK ON ROBUST Q3
Mark Parker, president & CEO Nike, Inc.
NIKE SETS TARGET FOR FISCAL YEAR 2017 WITH REVENUES OF $36 BILLION At its annual investor meeting at its Portland headquarters, Nike, Inc. announced its goal to deliver $36 billion in revenue by fiscal year 2017. The company also stated it expects to deliver revenues of $30 billion by fiscal year 2015, at the top end of its previously announced target range of $28 to $30 billion. "Nike, Inc. is designed to win. We’ve never been better positioned to capitalize on the opportunities ahead of us,” said Nike, Inc. President and CEO Mark Parker. “We have a strong management team and we are accelerating our innovation agenda to create products and services that drive growth in the marketplace, deliver exciting retail experiences globally and expand the capabilities of our powerful supply chain.” The company expects Nike Brand growth across its business portfolio of geographical business units, product types, businesses and categories. Some of the Nike Brand fiscal 2017 growth targets highlighted at the meeting included:
»» Apparel to grow from $7.5 billion to $10 billion; »» Women’s Business to grow from $4 billion to $7 billion; and
»» Direct-to-Consumer e-commerce business to grow from nearly $550 million to $2 billion.
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Wolverine Worldwide, Inc.’s third quarter results came in better than expected as a result of a stronger than expected profit contribution from last year’s mega-acquisition that brought Sperry Top-Sider, Saucony, Stride Rite, and Keds. The strong performance was led by double-digit revenue increases across many of its brands, including Merrell, Sperry Top-Sider, Saucony, Keds, Chaco and Cushe. The gains came despite continued cautious buying stances by U.S. stores. “Domestically, the market has remained tepid as conflicting messages on the economic recovery had caused retailers to be cautious with their buying in particular and consumers to be measured with their spending,” said Blake Krueger, chairman, CEO and president, on a conference call with analysts. “Outside the U.S., Europe has recently begun to show signs of stabilization, and economic forecasts are now calling for limited growth in 2014.” Earnings jumped 65.9 percent in the quarter ended September 7, to $54.4 million, or $1.08 a share. Excluding acquisition-related transaction and integration expenses in both years, fully diluted EPS in the quarter was $1.16, a 61.1 percent hike over the prior year and easily ahead of Wall Street’s consensus estimate of $1.03. Revenue vaulted 103.0 percent to $716.7 million, reflecting the acquisition that closed in October 2012 while advancing a solid 9.0 percent on a pro forma basis. By segment, revenues in the Performance Group - consisting of Merrell, Saucony, Chaco, Cushe and Patagonia Footwear - jumped 67.0 percent to $254.1 million while increasing 13.4 percent on a pro-forma basis. Merrell, Saucony, Chaco, and Cushe all delivered double-digit revenue growth. Merrell's healthy results in the quarter reflected growth from each of the Performance Outdoor, Outside Athletic and Active Lifestyle categories, “with the latter being especially gratifying because we've been working very hard to regain traction with the brand's casual offerings,” said Don Grimes, CFO. Elaborating in the Q&A session, Krueger noted that Merrell saw a “pretty good rebound” in Europe and exceeded expectations there against easy comparisons. Latin America was also “very strong” for Merrell, benefiting from the success of its concept stores. The U.S. saw growth, “which was very encouraging,” said Krueger. Saucony had “another impressive quarter,” according to Grimes, and is benefiting from strong launches, including the Omni 12, an Editor's Choice from Runners World Magazine; and Carrera, the best cross-country shoe from Running Network. Saucony also continued to gain market share in the run specialty channel, growing at more than twice the rate of the overall category, according to Grimes. Lifestyle Group sales – including Sperry, Hush Puppies, Keds and the Stride Rite Children's Group - leapt 678.4 percent to $295.8 million and increased 9.6 percent on a pro-forma basis, led by Keds and Sperry. Heritage Group - consisting of Wolverine, Cat Footwear, Bates, Sebago, Harley-Davidson Footwear and HyTest - saw sales inch up 0.8 percent to $144.6 million. With the above-plan quarter, Wolverine boosted its adjusted per-share earnings forecast for the year, now expecting $2.73 to $2.83; ahead of its previous range of $2.60 to $2.75 a share. It narrowed its revenue estimate to $2.71 billion to $2.73 billion, from $2.7 billion to $2.775 billion.
PULSE OF THE OUTDOOR CONSUMER STUDY A Market Insight Study from The SportsOneSource Group
SOS Research takes an in-depth look at the key shopping behaviors, influences, and motivators for Americaâ€™s active outdoor consumer
For more information, or to reserve your copy of the Pulse Of The Outdoor Consumer study, OCTOBER 14, 2013 | SGBWeekly.com contact Neil Schwartz 561.692.3722 or email SOSResearch@SportsOneSource.com
Dancing with the Stars' Brooke Burke-Charset and Michael Greenberg, president of Skechers USA
SKECHERS STEPS UP FOR KIDS
"...the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more."
By Thomas J. Ryan
n 2005, just as his first child was starting middle school, Michael Greenberg, president of Skechers USA, became acutely aware of the need for a program in the South Bay area that would foster friendships between children with special needs and the kids near Skechers’ headquarters in Manhattan Beach, CA. Also seeing many young people looking for ways to volunteer and the possibility of using his local Jewish Community Center as a place to meet, Greenberg, along with his friend Rabbi Yossi Mintz, launched their own chapter of The Friendship Circle, at gotfriends.com, to support children with special needs. But the true inspiration for the program dates many years earlier. “When I was in elementary school, one of my classmates had special needs,” said Greenberg. “My teacher at the time asked if any students wanted to be his 10 SGBWeekly.com | OCTOBER 14, 2013
buddy to help him to class, sit with him at lunch, and keep an eye out for him. I volunteered, and after a while, we became friends. I believe this was a mutually rewarding experience. Not only did he gain a friend, but I did as well.” While looking to help kids with special needs, Greenberg also wanted to help his extended family at Skechers and his local community find an easier path to make a difference, recalling the positive impact volunteering had early on in his life. “Manhattan Beach is much more than our headquarters, it is our home,” said Greenberg. “And the people that work at Skechers are more than just employees. We are a team, friends, and extended family. And like me, many members of the Skechers team also live in this community, and their children go to school here. And if they don’t have children, they know someone who does. It is a very supportive and tight-knit community - both Skechers and Manhattan Beach and the surrounding cities.” Unlike the other 83 Friendship Circles, Greenberg and Rabbi Mintz decided to make their chapter nondenominational, to allow children and young adults into the program regardless of their spiritual beliefs and backgrounds. Currently, the Friendship Circle serves over 1,000 families of kids with special needs through programs in homes, schools and the community, utilizing 1,200 student volunteers from elementary school through college age. Within the first three years, the organization began attracting children and teen volunteers from all over the L.A. area, but there was one problem. To accommodate all of the children and young adults, additional programs and activities needed to be implemented. At the same time the recession hit in 2008, affecting the budgets of all philanthropies and schools. Greenberg not only saw a more pressing need to support children with special needs, but also to support local South Bay schools, whether in retaining key curriculum or improving class sizes, technology and high-quality programs. The broader reach in helping kids in schools also fit Skechers’ position as the number one footwear brand for children. Soon, the Skechers Pier to Pier Friendship Walk was born. “The Friendship Circle’s premise was about creating lasting and impactful friendships and the need to make a difference,” said Greenberg. “This idea could be extended to our education system. We saw schools in our community struggling, and while there were fundraisers on a very local level, as a vested business in the area, we believed we could bring together these groups to impact a larger demographic.” Since its inception in 2009, the Friendship Walk has raised $1.9 million. Last year, the Friendship Walk boasted over 8,000 participants, and 10,000 are set to walk on October 27 this year. Produced by Skechers USA and co-produced by The Friendship Circle, the event involves a 3.4-mile walk from the Manhattan Beach Pier to the Hermosa Beach Pier and back. Its appeal has been boosted by the early support of some of Skechers’ celebrity friends, including Dancing with the Stars’ Brooke Burke-Charset and Hall of Fame baseball legend
Tommy Lasorda, who have attended every walk and serve as ambassadors. Along with numerous kid-friendly activities, the walk is followed by the annual World Famous Pumpkin Races at the Manhattan Beach Pier. But Greenberg believes the camaraderie and cause are the main driver of the event’s ever-widening appeal. “The Skechers Pier to Pier Friendship Walk brings friends from near and far together to make a difference and to feel a part of something bigger,” said Greenberg. “The uniqueness about the Skechers Friendship Walk is the way the cause impacts those involved. Everyone can benefit from improvements to education. Everyone can relate to the need for friendship and kindness.” While quickly becoming a signature event each fall for South Bay locals, the Friendship Walk also gained awareness on the national level through sponsorships from companies like Nickelodeon, its title sponsor since 2012. Last year’s event brought visits by SpongeBob, Dora and he Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. “Nickelodeon is an iconic network that has captured the attention of children, teens, and families for many years now and will continue to do so for years to come. To have support from a network that revolves around children is amazing and we wouldn’t have it any other way.” Other sponsors include many of Skechers retail partners, including Zappos.com, Ross, Rack Room, DSW, Marshalls, WWS, Journeys, Finish Line, Foot Locker and many more. Said Greenberg, “Each contribution has enabled us to expand our charitable offerings to over 60,000 children.” But much of the event’s success comes from Skechers’ internal team of event organizers, whom Greenberg said have learned over the years to be “patient yet persistent” in seeking progress. “In our first year we had over 2,000 participants and raised $220,000,” noted Greenberg. “Being our first year, we were extremely proud of our accomplishments, but knew we could do better because we knew the need was greater. We still had programs to fund, teachers’ jobs to be saved, and many more children to accommodate. So at times not being able to tackle all of our goals right away is somewhat discouraging, but we now know that we won’t get any closer to our goals unless we continue to persevere.”
He added, “Each year we’ve surpassed the last, increasing our numbers as the time goes on. Yet within every year, there are more hurdles to tackle and additional goals to be set. We are proud of how far we have come, but know we have much more to do.” The Friendship Walk and The Friendship Circle complement many other charitable causes Skechers’ supports, which includes a breast cancer awareness shoe. A particularly successful program recently was the BOBS from Skechers’ charitable shoe program, which reached its five million pair donation mark this summer. Skechers donates a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair of BOBS purchased. Lauched in 2011 specifically for women, BOBS expanded in spring 2012 with men and children's styles. “Through BOBS, we are providing new shoes to children in need in the Philippines, Indonesia, Haiti, Uganda, Honduras, Croatia, and numerous other countries around the world,” said Greenberg. “And we have been donating in the United States, providing relief efforts for recent natural disasters, as well as outfitting children in entire school districts, at summer camps, and at homeless shelters.” The success of BOBS has only further reinforced Greenberg’s belief in the two-way benefit of making a difference. Backed by the success of the Friendship Walk, The Friendship Circle’s reach continues to expand to reach more lives. “This organization pulls together citizens of all stages of life: students, parents, teachers, therapists, professionals, businesses, city officials, and more - and helps us discover our commonality in humanity, rather than the competitive race we often find ourselves running every day,” said Greenberg. “As the author H. Jackson Brown, Jr. wrote, ‘Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.’ I believe this is true for myself, and for those involved in the Skechers Pier to Pier Walk.” ■ OCTOBER 14, 2013 | SGBWeekly.com
ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS
INTRODUCES A NEW CONCEPT IN RECOVERY HYDRATION
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PowerICE is the first frozen hydration bar designed to enhance athlete performance by cooling the core body temperature while replenishing lost electrolytes. The company says the effects of cooling the core body temperature can increase performance in athletes, citing studies conducted by Edith Cowan University in Australia, which show that runners who ingested iced product before workouts in hot, humid conditions ran 19 percent further before exhaustion set in. In its first season, the company opened more than 100 retail locations in 24 states, many of which sell the bars individually or in six and 10 packs. A group on the East Coast developed PowerICE four years ago but the product didn’t gain traction until it was moved to Steamboat Springs, CO, by a group of local entrepreneurs. Steamboat is unique in that it is home to more than a dozen outdoor companies and numerous professional and Olympic level athletes, giving the company the legs it needed to garner attention and get into athletes’ and retailers’ hands. “Our growth is being fueled by the groundswell of athletes and outdoor enthusiasts who’ve tried PowerICE and are telling others about it,” said Blair McNamara, director of sales. PowerICE can be purchased unfrozen or frozen and are packaged to be used before, during or after an athlete’s workout. Nothing sells the idea of PowerICE better than trying the product, and representatives were on the road this summer attending running events, cycling events, bike rallies, triathlons, swimming events, parades, football camps, baseball facilities, lacrosse camps and tournaments of all kinds to get samples out to hot people. The pace at which the frozen bar melts is, according to the company, the rate that medical professionals recommend for patient hydration. PowerICE replenishes electrolytes and contains no high fructose corn syrup, stimulants, artificial colors or artificial flavors. A 1.7-ounce frozen PowerICE bar contains 30 calories. It contains 17 mgs of potassium working together with 25 mgs of sodium to assist with electrolyte balance for performance, and 100 percent of the daily vitamin C recommended for active lifestyles. “Everyday of training has to be as productive as possible. I use PowerICE for recovery and to increase my endurance. It works,” Nordic combined skier Todd Lodwick said, who has five Olympics and nine World Championships under his belt. Currently there are two flavors: Lime Kicker and Orange Blast, with more in the works. Prices are: $6/6-bar pack ; $13/10-bar pack ; $22/18-bar pack. ■
WHERE STRATEGIC DECISIONS BEGIN
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John Rogers President, Maine Running Company
In mid-September, Fleet Feet, Inc., the leading franchiser of running specialty stores, announced a partnership with John Rogers, owner and president of Maine Running Company that will lead to the conversion of his two stores into Fleet Feet Sports stores. Fleet Feet Sports, which now has 112 locations across 34 states, gained a strong regional operator and foothold in upper New England while Rogers saw the opportunity to align his business with a national brand and tap into the resources and support that come with being a part of the franchise. Rogers originally opened Maine Running Company in Portland in 2005 and added a Brunswick location in 2009. Prior to founding Maine Running Company, he worked in various product and marketing executive positions on the vendor side, including stints at Reebok and Mizuno. In 2005, Rogers helped form and serve as a board director for the Independent Running Retailers Association. As a competitive runner, Rogers qualified for both the 1984 and 1988 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, while also posting PR's of 4:04 Mile, 14:02 5K, 29:20 10K, 48:45 10 Mile and 2:18:02 Marathon. Here, Rogers talks about making the decision to partner with Fleet Feet, the overall rash of consolidation overtaking the run specialty world, and other challenges facing the industry.
retention, we were better off aligning versus trying to get better separately.
Conversations began in early 2013 when I had the opportunity to work with Ed Griffin, Fleet Feet Syracuse and Luke Rowe, Fleet Feet, Inc., at a number of vendor meetings and the discussion was always about how to get better, the challenges that face our channel, and how do we partner with each other to solve them. Out of that came a mutual respect and philosophical alignment that Independents and Fleet Feet had a lot more in common than differences. With consolidation, product commoditization and the issues taking place with customer
of scale benefits, such as website development, hosting and in-store signage. Training program benefits, such as coaching certification and insurance. Continued online webinar and tutorial training for staff, as well as in store, on site training by Fleet Feet. Operational, financial and backroom management is available through Fleet Feetâ€™s CFO In A Box, which is a significant benefit for owners who need that expertise. Finally, the Fleet Feet culture of networking, exchanging ideas and franchisee input into everything they do, can only help us get better.
HOW DID THE FLEET FEET PARTNERSHIP COME ABOUT?
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No, I was actually looking at ways to get better operationally and culturally, empower employees to drive relationship selling versus transactional selling and provide a better and more complete in-store experience for our customers. WERE YOU LOOKING FOR A PARTNER?
Because Fleet Feet allows us to maintain our independent uniqueness within our market and community, while providing resources to forge new ideas, provide support and grow of our business. It also provides a succession plan and long term continued local ownership. WHY DID YOU ULTIMATELY PARTNER WITH FLEET FEET?
Fleet Feet provides our employees with more tools and opportunities for growth and continued staff training. Also, they provide updated and improved training group programs, gift cards that can be used at Fleet Feetâ€™s nationwide and the relevancy, support and resources of a national brand, but at a local level. HOW DOES PARTNERING HELP MAINE RUNNING COMPANY?
CAN YOU OUTLINE ALL THE BENEFITS THAT YOU EXPECT? There will be economy
MAINE RUNNING COMPANY IS ALREADY HERALDED FOR ITS CUSTOMER SERVICE AND COMMUNITY OUT-
How, if at all, might the partnership help your customer relationships? The biggest benefit to our customers will be resources to create a culture of relationship versus transactional selling and a better experience. Footwear is a significant percentage of our business and by having our employees create a more complete in-store experience with crossover sales of accessories, apparel, bras, hydration, nutrition and injury prevention is going to help us grow. REACH?
WILL THIS HELP MAINE RUNNING COMPANY EXPAND?
Our plan is to create a better experience for our customers and community, with a greater focus on customer acquisition and retention and to grow our current locations. ANY CONCERNS AROUND THE CHANGE FROM MAINE RUNNING COMPANY TO MAINE FLEET FEET?
Clearly the biggest issue is brand conversion and ensuring our customers and community trust that local ownership and dollars stay in Maine, which is why we have up to 36 months to convert the brand. We have already started the process with transparent communication to key running influencers, our top customers, email list and social media base. We also had a town hall running community meeting to explain and answer any questions. The key is being transparent and having your entire team on message about the transition and how it benefits the running community. To date, we’ve received positive response to the conversion. I’m fortunate to have great partners and an empowered management team. We all have our specific roles with business partner Bill Galbraith focused on finance and backroom operations and GM Maggie Poisson, on the day-to-day retail operations. Obviously, Bill and Maggie’s roles can’t be understated as they both contribute enormously to our success. I will continue to focus on product assortment, in-store merchandising, marketing, and community out reach, vendor relations and business development. I plan to continue in this role, with a greater emphasis on creating a culture of empowered employees to manage and create better experiences for our customers. I will also continue to be a strong advocate of providing greater operational education HOW DOES YOUR ROLE CHANGE?
opportunities for independent specialty running stores. In today’s changing market landscape, running stores have to become better operators and be better at customer retention. I will continue to focus on that through the IRRA, as well as Fleet Feet. HOW DOES THE STRUCTURE WORK? Fleet Feet pro-
vides a service, just like any employee does. Fleet Feet essentially works for their franchisees. We are paying a fair royalty, but did not pay a franchise fee to convert. The royalty is basically a wash for the economy of scale benefits, resources and services provided. Fleet Feet basically provides a service to us and we own the company. DID YOU TALK TO RUNNING SPECIALTY GROUP OR
We were approached by both national and regional entities, as other successful stores have been. However, I believe strongly in the locally owned and operated model versus the locally managed model because it allows us to be more connected with our customers and community. This is core to the Fleet Feet model and will continue to set us apart. This philosophical alignment with Fleet Feet and the assurance of long-term local ownership continuity was a major factor in our decision. OTHERS?
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF ALL THIS CONSOLIDATION AS WELL AS THE ATTENTION FROM THE FINISH LINE, FOOT LOCKER, DICK’S SPORTING GOODS AND OTH-
Consolidation was inevitable, especially with run specialty being a strong growth and profit area in the retail sector. With that attention also comes product commoditization, meaning you can get running product anywhere. We have a changing customer with ever changing purchasing habits. We have to evolve with that market and focus on creating a better, more complete experience for our customers, as well as learning better ways to acquire, retain and service them. The Fleet Feet locally owned operator model is different in that it allows you to maintain your independence and uniqueness in your market, while having the resources to get better and evolve with those changes. ERS BEING PAID TO RUN SPECIALTY?
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE TO OTHERS EXPLORING EITHER A SIMILAR PARTNERSHIP OR EVEN SELLING?
Every market, owner and store is different… it’s really about where you are in life and what you want to do long term. I never
question someone’s decision to sell, but just look at all the options, how it affects your employees and community and do what is best for yourself and your business. RUN SPECIALTY HAD A RARE ROUGH SPRING? WHAT
Honestly, it was weather driven. We have caught up with Year-to-Date versus Year Ago numbers, so the dollar spend shifted. DO YOU THINK CAUSED IT?
HOW DO YOU SEE FOOTWEAR TRENDS SHIFTING?
Footwear is constantly evolving with vendors continuing to get better. Minimalism has dissipated and is more prevalent in training and cross fit. The new geometric technologies being created by Hoka One, the Brooks Transcend and New Balance Fresh Foam will certainly have an impact on the natural running category, which, in my opinion, is still fluid in its evolution. THERE ARE A LOT OF NEW AND BIGGER BRANDS PAYING MORE ATTENTION TO THE SPACE. DO YOU SEE A
More importantly I see greater commoditization with product available in more places than ever. Price escalation is also an issue for everyone. I think the shakeout will occur due to these two issues more than anything, as certain brands and models reach critical mass. It is a healthy time for innovation as we have to create greater value with features and benefits and the only way to do this is with better technology. SHAKEOUT?
A NEWER PHENOMENON IS THESE MUD RUNS, GLOW RUNS, COLOR RUNS, ZOMBIE RUNS, ETC.
We’re not a big supporter of “For Profit” races. It is creating new runners but it also takes away from a multitude of local non-profit races. Even though these events donate to various local causes, they need to be more transparent regarding where those dollars are heading outside each local market. WHAT’S YOUR TAKE?
It is going to be a roller coaster for the next 24 to 48 months, with consolidation and the other issues facing run specialty occurring. The opportunity is to get in front of the challenges of consolidation, commoditization, customer acquisition, and customer retention and get better at every facet of your business, while continuing a strong connectivity with customers and community. ■ WHAT’S YOUR OUTLOOK FOR RUN SPECIALTY?
OCTOBER 14, 2013 | SGBWeekly.com
A VISIBLE RUN OPPORTUNITY Whether through fluorescent colors, reflective or glow-in-the dark technologies or actual lighting, scores of options are available to light the way for night runners. By Thomas J. Ryan
November is known nationally as American Diabetes Month. It’s also National Adoption Awareness Month, National American Indian Heritage Month and to a small but hungry few, Sweet Potato Awareness Month. But most importantly to the running community, November is National Running Safety Month. With the sun setting earlier and rising later amid daylight savings time, more runners are out at dawn or dusk, or even running in pitch black night. Unfortunately, those are the times of day when runners are most vulnerable on the road. 16 SGBWeekly.com | OCTOBER 14, 2013
According to the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: »»
Nearly 4,432 pedestrians (walkers, runners and hikers) died when hit by cars in 2011 – or one every two hours, an 8 percent increase from 2009; Nearly three out of four (70 percent) pedestrian deaths occur during the nighttime. Between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on weekdays was deemed the most dangerous time walk on the road; and Ten percent of all on-road pedestrian fatalities were related to pedestrians not being visible to drivers.
Gabe Maricich, men’s apparel product line manager, Brooks against a runner’s inner mantra not to stand out. Quips Patrick O'Malley, Running, believes the need for runners to be seen better in low- SVP of global product for Saucony, “People don’t want to be lit up visibility conditions is being boosted by the popularity of a wide like a Christmas tree.” Saucony first introduced its expansive VIZI PRO line in 2009 variety of races, including nighttime races like the Firefly runs that and O'Malley said the extension fit Saucony’s goal of offering solustart at 9:00 p.m. Evening and night running has also become a gotions to runners. He said, “What we do is solve runners’ problems to in hot climates in at other times of the year. But with the jump in runners in general over the past decade and one of the main problems we saw is that if you’re up early in the and the daylight-hours-shrinking challenge, many Brooks employ- morning or running after work, you need to be seen.” The brand also found many solutions in the marketplace only ees “have witnessed and been in close calls while running in lowworked when car lights hit some reflective material that could be as light conditions, so we knew there was a critical need for reflective, close as 10 yards away but that often cuts it too close. high-visibility apparel for runners.” That inspired the development of Brooks’ Nightlife apparel line, and scores of accessories, apparel and footwear options that have arrived on the scene in recent years to help runners avoid car collisions. “Having a car that you’re not sure sees you and comes at you head-on is a scary prospect and it reinforces our belief, both on a personal level and as a company, that we need to create a versatile range of visibility products that keep runners lit or reflective from multiple points on their body,” said Brent Hollowell, VP of marketing, Nathan, the running accessories provider. Hollowell believes the safety message is getting out to the running community. He added, “Wearing reflective and active LED at different points on your head, your arms, your legs – body parts in motion when you’re running – will better outline the human form and distinguish you from a wild animal, a street sign, or something else.” Saucony Sonic ViZi PRO Jacket June Angus, president, Amphipod, Inc., another leading running accessories provider, says major improveIn addressing visibility, SauSaucony ments in the functionality, fit, performance fabrics, application cony first looks at chromaticKinvara methods/retro-reflective materials, and aesthetics of visibility vests ity, which is a measurement of and clothing have made it even more viable for runners, who years relative visibility of a garment ago, would never have considered putting on a reflective vest of the with some colors reflecting past. She jokes, “Think of 70’s and 80’s vests – a perfect match for light and others absorbing striped Dolphin shorts!” them. O'Malley pointed to Additionally, advances in battery technology (size/weight/cost) surprisingly notable differences between similar colors, such as have had an impact on the number of LED accessories available four-inch fluorescent orange showing up much brighter than citand entry-level retail price points for visibility items, she added. rus. Saucony then added 3M reflectivity to many of its garments to “Smaller LED-based attachable visibility enhancing accessories catch the car headlights. Many also include an USB-rechargeable are generally lighter and more minimalist way for vest-shy runners LED light that can either stay solid or blink. Most runners chose to to make themselves more visible in low-light conditions,” added stay solid but tests have shown that blinking lights can be spotted Angus. “Short themed fun-runs have become a huge draw in local quicker. communities and are scheduled more as evening or night races for A core item is Saucony’s Sonic ViZi PRO Jacket, which features the blinking wild fun of it!” ViZiPRO color (neon orange), a two-way front zipper with For stores, however, the visibility opportunity can be challeng- reflective edge tape, and USB rechargeable built-in lighting on the ing. With runners already known to skip stretching, adequate hy- left front and across the back. dration, or even a breathable t-shirt, the need for enhanced visA newer initiative is adding visibility to footwear with the ibility during night runs is often seen as an afterthought. Another ViZiGLO line that adds 360-degrees of eye-popping reflectivity to challenge is that the many fluorescent and reflective options work the upper and midsoles of its Kinvara and Ride models. OCTOBER 14, 2013 | SGBWeekly.com
Saucony’s lab is working next on the idea of “ViziPro on demand,” or being able to enable a user to have high visibility when they need it but tone it down when they don’t. Said O'Malley, “Bright fluorescent colors are great on the road but don’t always work as a lifestyle piece. You don’t want to stand out like an orange traffic cone in a bar. But carbon, gray or black don’t work on the road. So that’s a challenge we’re working through.” Asics first introduced its Lite-Show line, which also featured footwear, in fall 2012, representing its first focused 360-degree reflective collection that coordinated back with the rest of the run line. The Lite-Show apparel and accessories are made with retroreflective thread technology sewn into the flat lock seams that bounces light rays directly back to its light source. “The collection offers great visibility without being day glow bright, stealth until light hits it with performance fabrics,” said Kim Shelton, Asics Lite-Show Asics’ apparel product manager. “The big push came when our footwear brought this reflective story into key shoes to round out a full head-to-toe story.” The Lite-Show collection has been updated and expanded for several seasons with some pieces now incorporating 3M technologies. On the footwear side, the Lite-Show Nimbus and Cumulus as well as a new Lite-Show Exalt all use 3M reflectivity on the outerlays and also the logo stripes. The Nimbus also features glow in the dark gel. On the accessories side, Asics in Fall 2014 is bringing out a glove featuring the retro reflective thread technology, as well as 360 degree for running caps and a hybrid reversible buff. Taking night running to another level, Skechers USA is coming out with the Nite Owl, a line of glow-in-the-dark sneakers. Initially inspired by requests from its running testers, Skechers worked Skechers with a scientific firm through USA Nite Owl the 18-month plus development process to understand how eyes perceive light to determine the best way to improve upon a glow-in-the-dark product. “The technology comes from photon-emitting materials that are integrated into our more conventional footwear materials,” said Rick Higgins, VP of merchandising and marketing for Skechers Performance division. “With 18 SGBWeekly.com | OCTOBER 14, 2013
light exposure, the glow feature will fully charge in a matter of minutes and continue to emit light for several hours. The material is completely non-toxic. We got the idea to use the technology in footwear when we learned of a project in the Netherlands to design highways that glow in the dark for safety benefits.” The initial charge of the shoe, either by natural light or indoor ambient light, creates the photo luminescent effect. The glow will not diminish and lasts the entire lifespan of the shoe; each time they are charged, the shoes will glow brightly. “The advantage is the Nite Owl glow shows up immediately like an early warning system,” said Higgins. “Traditional reflective options do provide a measure of safety, but require a direct light source to create the visibility effect. This could put runners or walkers in harm’s way before a car driving at night actually sees them on the road. Skechers Nite Owl photo luminescent technology provides much greater visibility in all low light conditions and does not require a beamed light source to create the glow effect.” As part of an upgraded Hi-Viz running series, New Balance this fall is introducing the Hi-Viz Beacon Jacket, which likewise glows in the dark. In only 10 minutes under any light source, the jacket will fully charge and glow making sure that the athlete can get through their workout safely. The jacket also features high visibility color that can help draw attention to the athlete during low light conditions such as the men’s green gecko and women fiery coral, and reflectivity in key areas. The Hi-Viz Beacon Jacket ties back to the glowin-the-dark new green gecko and fiery coral color ways in the lightweight, minimal racing flat New Balance 1400 and the Impact New Balance Hi-Viz Beacon Jacket Tight and Capri. Adidas has increased its reflectivity offerings over the past few season to make sure its garments are visible, including adding 360-degrees of reflectivity and increasing candle power up to 400 candle power in Fall/Winter 2013, which it claims to be the brightest reflectivity in the market. “Adidas has always made sure that fit, function and performance are key with any product that is created,” said Kristin Jones, merchandise manager Adidas Supernova for Adidas Running U.S. “That Convertible Jacket being said, it is extremely important to keep runners visible
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when they are on the road. We are putting more visibility on running garments each season to help improve running at night or low-lit areas.” Highlighted items include the Supernova Smarter Jacket, featuring crisscross graphics woven into the garment that won’t wash out. That’s matched by the Supernova Men’s 9-inch Shorts, which are completely reflective 360 degrees; and the Supernova Convertible Jacket, a 3-1 women’s jacket with a reflective graphic layer that can zip off if the runner gets too hot. Brooks Running’s Nightlife Jacket has become a flagship product for the brand for many years, with the signature Nightlife color becoming fairly common among almost every other running and active brand. “The Nightlife Jacket is a wonderful blend of technologies and sciBrooks PureProject ence, applying three key Jacket tools to keep runners safe: Fluorescence, Contrast and Retro reflectivity,” said Maricich. Instant recognition remains a key concept Brooks has been working on for awhile. Maricich pointed to the challenges car drivers have quickly identifying a runner as a human and not just a bright object like a traffic cone or stop sign in low-visibility conditions. Said Maricich, “We've refined our products and tuned them to make ‘a person look more like a person,’ building around key technologies and partnering with researchers to continuously push the limits of current products.” A new take on reflectivity is being brought to market through Brooks’ new PureProject Apparel line, with reflective yarn woven into the fabric. Said Maricich, “The reflectivity works when you need it, but ‘disappears’ during daytime hours. It's a fun, new, and exciting way to keep people seen regardless of what they're doing.” On the accessories side, Nathan has seen strong growth in active visibility lighting, led by its best-seller LED Safety Strobe. In 2013, Nathan introduced its Run Longer Series, an entire collection of new form factors of LED lights, including StrobeLights, a LightBender LED Armband, and a LightSpur LED Heel Clip-On. Nathan’s No Matter What Gear takes this a step further, and incorporates rechargeable
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Nathan LightBender LED Armband
LED technology into cooler weather running performance gear like hats, beanies, and gloves. Hollowell said many running stores are embracing the high-margin category by promoting the enjoyment and safety of running. “Visibility can be a difficult subject to broach without sounding like an over-protective parent talking to a child,” said Hollowell. “We're trying to do a better job of providing tools and information for stores that help them engage with customers in a meaningful way, while also adding
Nathan LightSpur LED Heel Clip-On
fraction of those runners are buying visibility products on a regular basis, if at all,” said Hollowell. “If we can provide product that’s more approachable, information that allows store staff to speak confidently and knowledgably, and interesting and memorable ways to connect with customers, we all – runners, retailers, and visibility brands – will benefit.” Amphipod’s first visibility product was developed a number of years ago with the objective of maximum reflective visibility with the most minimalist body coverage possible.
Amphipod Micro-Light Flashing Reflective Arm Band
some fun and stickiness to the message that’s being delivered.” As part of that effort, Nathan launched a “How Do You Get Lit?” visibility campaign, a comprehensive tool kit and educational platform that includes both staff training tools, customer collateral, merchandising tips, and digital assets that retailers can use and share readily. “There are over 20 million core runners in the United States, and category sales indicate that only a
“We found that most runners wouldn’t wear reflective, as they didn’t want to feel like they were wearing clothes over clothes,” said Angus. “The super minimalist and super adjustable Amphipod Xinglet was born.” Amphipod is now offering the patented Xinglet Vest in hot pink and hi-viz green, but also has expanded well beyond the Xinglet with the New Vizlet flashing magnetic wearable reflectors Xinglet Flash LED Vest, Micro-Light Flashing Reflective
Arm Bands, and Swift-Clip Cap Lights. Overall, Amphipod has over 70 items across a wide price range, from $5 to $45, in the reflective visibility/LED Essentials category and a wide range of colors.
Amphipod Swift-Clip Cap Lights
“These are big holiday gift and stockingstuffer items at the perfect time of year, in addition to big sellers into the new-yearsresolution fitness spike,” said Angus. Petzl, known for their headlamps for mountaineering and exploring caves, has also helped light the way for runners since the original TIKKA was launched back in 2000. The headlamps fit runners who like to train at night - in the warmer months, for example – but also long-distance runners often run through at night because they run for longer than 12 hours. “The durability and the compactness gained by switching to LEDs from incandescent lighting made headlamps that were tough enough to withstand the jarring nature of running use,” said Jesse Edmundson, Petzl’s headlamp division manager. “Runners who run at night are a natural fit for our products, which are lightweight, bright, and reliable. Petzl has been sponsoring orienteering races since we introduced the ULTRA Headlamps in 2008, and today we sponsor several ultra races and the Ragnar Relay Series, as well.” Edmundson said one difference between your typical runner and your typical outdoor customer (camper, climber, mountaineer) is that lighting is usually not top of mind for runners. “Outdoor users have headlamps high on their gear list and use them constantly around camp or if their outings have them up before the sun and out after dark, which is common,” said Edmundson. “That means we have to put headlamps out in front of runners using POP displays, and to explain the virtues of night running, as we did with this video produced for the NAO launch.” The NAO Headlamp features a technology called Reactive Lighting, which uses
Photo courtesy New Balance
an integrated sensor and microprocessor to measure incoming light (what the runner’s eye sees, basically) and then adjusts the output automatically and nearly instantaneously. Said Edmundson, ”This light has been a huge hit with ultra runners because it is super bright and requires no adjustment. It simply gives you the light you need when you need it, from 7 to 355 Lumens.” Petzl followed up the NAO launch in 2012 with the TIKKA R Series that’s more
Byte (small enough to carry and offers 50 Lumens of light) to the powerful, self-contained Vizz (165 Lumens) with dimmable flood beam, and up to its top of the line Apex (200 Lumens). Some runners like to carry a small handheld like the Amp 1 LED, and others place more importance on the handheld and favor the more powerful League 100.
Petzl NAO Headlamp
Princeton Tec Vizz
Petzl TIKKA R Series
compact and lightweight than the NAO but still featuring Reactive Lighting technology. Princeton Tec has always been a brand around endurance pursuits, evolving from its mountaineering roots to adventure racing, 24-hour bike racing and more recently ultra-marathon running. “The Ultra scene has been blowing up! Each sport clearly has its own set of requirements, and our personal lighting products work very well for ultra-runners,” said Princeton Tec's marketing director, George Chevalier. Princeton Tec makes a comprehensive range of headlamps for runners, from the
Princeton Tec Apex
Princeton Tec is also working with endurance athlete Gary Robbins to put together a group of ultra-runners to test upcoming product and explore needs. “Light or battery failure isn’t an option in ultra-marathon, since one cannot just borrow a friend’s light to complete the run,” noted Chevalier. ■ OCTOBER 14, 2013 | SGBWeekly.com
Danny Abshire Co-Founder & Chief Technical Officer Newton Running
Pee Wee football was awesome as a running back, wide receiver and kickoff/punt returner - running fast and making moves to fake out tacklers. Also middle school track - what a blast! I remember my first pair of track spikes on a cinder track surface in the mid 1960â€™s. What a rush to run as fast as you could. WHAT WERE YOUR FAVORITE SPORTS AS A KID?
touchdowns in one game.
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP?
Seeing Jean Claude Kelly win several gold medals in the 1968 Winter Olympics, I wanted to be an Olympic skier - or a pro football player. Picking up range balls at a local golf course, which prompted me to save that money and buy my first set of golf clubs and take up the sport. FIRST JOB?
HOW DID YOU FIND YOUR WAY TO THE RUNNING INDUSTRY? After
working in the ski industry for 10 years in Aspen, my wife and I moved to Boulder in 1988 and started Active Imprints, a running store that specialized in lightweight custom foot supports, running shoes, gait analysis and running form adjustments. In 2010 we merged Active Imprints with Newton Running to form the Newton Running Lab concept store in downtown Boulder. 22 SGBWeekly.com | OCTOBER 7, 2013
WHO DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR CAREER MENTORS?
Working with the original technology in 2003 that later became Newton Running, I was encouraged by my business partner Jerry Lee to pursue the manufacturability of the Newton Running shoe. I had the pleasure to meet and work with Bob Taylor, a material specialist and footwear developer from Portland, OR who mentored me in the advanced development process for the Newton technology. Over the next three years we were able to take the idea of a more level profile running shoe with an advanced technology, shock absorption, leverage and recoil to the initial line of eight SKUs by 2007. Between Jerry, Jennifer and Bob, they all encouraged and supported me to never give up if you truly feel what you are doing is unique and helpful to the runner and the running industry. DO YOU HAVE A TURNING POINT IN YOUR CAREER?
Before the launch of the company in 2007, we had to decide if we were going to talk about running efficiency. Over 15 years had been devoted to the technology and running efficiency via various testing processes. We decided to be the first brand to discuss and show videos online of how a runner could adjust their running movements to become more efficient and a shoe line that supported that running style. We called it Natural Running. I later wrote a
book with the same name. The idea is to have runners running more Naturally on unnatural surfaces. WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT WORKING IN THE RUN-
I have been running my entire life and have been a run-form coach since 1992. I love helping runners have a better experience and with my work in the industry, I now get to do that all over the country and world on a weekly basis. NING INDUSTRY?
Work on projects around my house and create yard art, and enjoy a relaxing run. WHAT DO YOU DO FOR FUN?
I love mountain trail running year round as it is quiet, challenging and offers amazing views. I play golf with some of my fellow workers and we totally have a blast with lots of laughs that goes with the challenge to master the skill. Colorado also offers some of the best snow skiing in the world, and I enjoy both hitting the slopes and skate skiing. WHAT ACTIVITIES DO YOU PARTICIPATE IN NOW?
NAME ONE HOBBY THE INDUSTRY MAY BE SURPRISED
I really enjoy art, and try to find the time to paint one piece a year - abstract art and bright color are my favorite. Wherever I travel I try to visit art studios or shows to see new styles and ideas of young artists. TO KNOW ABOUT YOU?
Winter Market JANUARY 22-25, 2014 All Mountain Demo JANUARY 21, 2014
MARK YOUR CALENDARS
Summer Market AUGUST 6-9, 2014 Open Air Demo AUGUST 5, 2014
24 SGBWeekly.com | OCTOBER 14, 2013