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ISSUE 1424 JUNE 16, 2014

The Weekly Digital Magazine for the Sporting Goods Industry

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Group Publisher Editor In Chief James Hartford 303.997.7302

ISSUE 1424 JUNE 16, 2014

Senior Business Editor Thomas J. Ryan 917.375.4699 Contributing Editors Scott Boulbol, Fernando J. Delgado, Bill Kendy, Charlie Lunan, Ryan Sullivan Editorial & Creative Director Teresa Hartford Senior Graphic Designer Camila Amortegui

The Weekly Digital Magazine for the Sporting Goods Industry

14 Brooks celebrates its 100th anniversary with a special Heritage Collection.

Director Media & Event Development Candice L. Smith West Coast and Rockies 603.361.5762 Advertising Sales Account Managers Buz Keenan Northeast 201.887.5112 Katie O'Donohue Southeast/Midwest 828.244.3043 Circulation & Subscriptions

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Copyright 2014 SportsOneSource, LLC. All rights reserved. The opinions expressed by writers and contributors to SGB WEEKLY are not necessarily those of the editors or publishers. SGB WEEKLY is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts, photographs or artwork. Articles appearing in SGB WEEKLY may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express permission of the publisher. SGB WEEKLY is published weekly by SportsOneSource, LLC, 2151 Hawkins Street, Suite 200, Charlotte, NC 28203; 704.987.3450. Send address changes to SGB WEEKLY, 2151 Hawkins Street, Suite 200, Charlotte, NC 28203; 704.987.3450

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MAKING NEWS 4 Movers & Shakers Saucony Celebrates Online Release of Finding Strong Film 5 2XU Appoints First U.S. President 6 Mizuno Launches Give-Back Running App 8 On Running Joins Swiss Innovation Panel in Manhattan Fleet Feet Acquires Metro Run and Walk 4 Industry News

PRODUCT SHOWCASE 10 Nutrition - New tastes and textures in nutrition help athletes to optimize fueling and recovery during training and competition.

FEATURE 14 Brooks Looks to the Future

14 ON THE COVER: Jim Weber, CEO, Brooks Running Co., lauded Brooks' rich running heritage at a two-day event held last month in Seattle, WA to celebrate Brooks Running's 100th anniversary.

JUNE 16, 2014 |


MOVERS & SHAKERS Honey Stinger has added Jerard Whitehead to its sales team in the role of grocery category manager and Shannon Lane in the new role of key account manager for sports and outdoor categories. Icebug, the Swedish footwear brand that rebooted its U.S. operations in 2013, has selected Rock Gear Distribution as its Canadian distributor. New Balance filed a lawsuit against designer Karl Lagerfeld for allegedly too closely copying its logo.

Oboz named Christian Mason, who helped establish German pack maker Deuter in the U.S. market, as its national sales manager. Probar named Gregg Lawson to the company’s executive sales team as sales director, alternative channels. Saxx Underwear Co. hired Tim Bartels as its newly appointed CEO. He most recently served as VP of global footwear sales, Columbia Sportswear. Skechers Performance Division announced that seven-time PGA Tour champion Matt Kuchar currently ranked 5th in the world - will be the first brand ambassador and face of the Skechers GOgolf line. Spanx, the Atlanta-based shape wear specialist, appointed Jan Singer, formerly corporate vice president of global apparel and corporate vice president of global footwear at Nike, Inc., as its CEO. Timex signed elite American runners Josh Cox and Desi (Davila) Linden to its roster of athlete ambassadors.

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Nike, Inc. said Craig Zanon, currently VP, GM of global basketball, will lead an expanded and elevated role in the men’s training category as VP & GM of global men’s training. Michael Jackson will take over as VP & GM of global basketball.

In celebration of National Running Day, Saucony announced the online release of Finding Strong, an independent film documentary that captures the transformative power of running. Produced by Saucony, in collaboration with Runner’s World, Finding Strong takes viewers on a global journey to spotlight how the simple act of running can create and empower communities. Spanning multiple continents, Finding Strong is directed by California-based photographer, filmmaker and adventurer Brian Vernor. The 22-minute documentary explores fascinating runners around the world, including elite National Guardsmen in Japan, a youth running community in Brazil, goat-herding girls in Djibouti and physically challenged athletes in New York City. In conjunction with the release, Vernor will share written, behind-the-scenes stories of the project on the Saucony blog, also beginning on June 4th. “Finding Strong brings our brand mission - to empower the human spirit through running clearly to life in a very compelling way,” said Mary O’Brien, vice president of marketing for Saucony. “On his journey to capture the human spirit, director Brian Vernor created a powerful tool, helping us to better understand how a common bond, in this case running, can bring about a shared kinship, transforming individuals, communities and even the world. “There couldn’t be a more appropriate time to celebrate the global release of this film and the incredible power of the running community than on National Running Day. On June 4th, we encourage runners to celebrate both our sport and the power of the human spirit by viewing Finding Strong and of course, going out for a run. It’s a privilege to have collaborated with both Runner’s World and Brian to create this film and an honor to now share it with runners everywhere,” said O’Brien. "Runner’s World had never co-produced a film or worked with an advertising partner in quite this way before, so this was uncharted territory for us,” said Runner's World general manager and editorin-chief David Willey. “The backbone of our mission is to inspire runners and to connect running to big themes and ideas. We know that running can change people's lives and believe that it can even drive social change around the world. Finding Strong, a beautiful film that tells emotionally powerful stories, proves that running can do just that. I'm so proud that Runner's World is a partner on this project with Saucony.” Viewers of the online screening of Finding Strong will also be able to donate to two of the running organizations featured in the documentary: Achilles International, a non-profit organization that provides a community of support to athletes with disabilities, and Girls Run 2, a running club for girls located in the Horn of Africa. Finding Strong has appeared at live screenings over the past few months, including a red carpet premier at the 2013 New York City Marathon; The Running Event 2013 in Austin; and the 2014 Collective at the Sundance Film Festival.


Scott Taylor, president 2XU

Australia’s 2XU, the sports and compression apparel brand, has appointed its first president for the United States, Scott Taylor. Taylor was most recently director-global brand marketing-golf, run, tennis, training and Tough Mudder at Under Armour. Other posts at Under Armour included director of key accounts and director of apparel merchandising. Prior to joining Under Armour, he spent 15 years at Nike, rising to national apparel sales manager (sporting goods and urban), and ultimately to the position of general merchandise manager for key accounts in the sporting goods and mall channels in the U.S. The hiring comes after L Capital Asia, a private equity fund sponsored by French luxury retail giant LVMH, acquired a 40 percent interest in 2XU, reportedly investing about $75 million Australian dollars (U.S. $68 mm). “From a US perspective, we aspire to accelerate the profitable growth of the business and brand to the extent that U.S. annual revenue breaks through $50 million by 2017 en route to $400 million in the longer term,” said 2XU Chief Executive Officer Kevin Roberts. “In order to achieve our global growth aspirations, it’s imperative that we develop high quality teams in all key markets, and we are delighted to welcome Scott to lead our team in the US. Scott possesses strong leadership capabilities, a deep knowledge of athletic retailers and consumers in the U.S. market and valuable experience in driving breakout growth at Nike and Under Armour over the last 23 years.”

JUNE 16, 2014 |





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Mizuno is converting “miles into money” by donating $1 for every mile run up to 100,000 miles by runners who download and run with Mizuno’s mobile “baton” app at The program is the next phase of Mizuno’s “What If Everybody Ran?” campaign, which celebrates running’s ability to inspire positive change. All proceeds will be donated to Back on My Feet, an organization Android and iPhone owners can download the Mizuno Baton app, log as many miles as they can in one week, that uses running to help those exand help Mizuno Running raise money for Back on My periencing homelessness get back Feet, a nonprofit that promotes the self-sufficiency of on their feet personally and finanhomeless people by engaging them in running to build cially through job placement and their confidence and self-esteem. other resources. Each participant who downloads and uses the ‘digital baton’ over the course of a week can then “pass” the baton to other runners through a convenient social media share function. The relay will be live through August 25 and consumers can download the app at any point until August 18. “The number of stories, photos and runs that have been shared over the last two months as part of the campaign has been unbelievable. We have witnessed first-hand how running can truly transform individuals, families and communities,” said Kim Hoey, Running Division Brand Manager, Mizuno USA. “Now we are putting our beliefs into action through the Mizuno Baton and raising awareness and donations for our partners at Back on My Feet.” Based in Philadelphia, Back on My Feet is a national for-purpose organization that uses running to help those experiencing homelessness change the way they see themselves so they can make real change in their lives that results in employment and independent living. Running leads to personal transformation and dedication to the program and provides access to much-needed training, employment and housing resources. Back on My Feet operates in 11 chapter cities across the U.S. “Back on My Feet is honored to be the exclusive charitable partner of the Mizuno Baton campaign which will enable runners nationwide to turn their miles into positive change for Back on My Feet Members experiencing homelessness,” said Mary K. FitzGerald, CEO of Back on My Feet. "Mizuno recognizes the greater impact running can have on people's lives and we look forward to engaging the Back on My Feet community with the baton application.” To download the “Baton” app, consumers can visit the Apple App Store or for Android users, visit the Google Play store. Or visit the “If Everybody Ran” microsite – - to download the app, view the leaderboard and find out more about the program. U.S. Consumers can join the conversation and share their running moments using #IfEverybodyRan.


Photo courtesy On Running

On Running founders - David Allemann, Olivier Bernhard and Caspar Coppetti, were in New York City in late May to participate in "Zurich Meets New York: A Festival of Swiss Ingenuity." Presented by the Consulate General of Switzerland in NY, the City of Zurich, ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich (UZH), the citywide festival explored the “contemporary relevance of visionary movements and scientific discoveries born in Zurich and their impact on American culture,” including On Running. At the presentation, On’s officials explained On’s patented CloudTec system, which features 15 enforced rubber “Cloud” elements that transform heavy impact into a light, natural running sensation. It also revealed an update to

the popular Cloudster, with a bigger toe box for more foot spray and an overall greater emphasis on comfort. After a presentation by On (named after the “on/off switch”) held in lower Manhattan, Coppetti said On now is in about 1,200 doors worldwide, up from approximately 700 in spring 2013. In the U.S., its dealer count is up to 250 from around 140 when it opened its first U.S. headquarters in Portland, OR last spring. On has a strong position in the West and the East. All of Running Specialty Group’s stores now carry the brand. Other key accounts include City Sports, Florida’s Fit to Run and Super Runners. A big recent win for On is signing to be represented

by Far West Associates, which had previously serviced Asics across the western states. Coppetti believes just as in its core European market, On is being helped in North America by its commitment to run specialty, its attention to service, and the brand’s ability to get store staff to believe in On’s product. He said, ”In the end, if the sales force believes in it, they bring it out. That’s really the key because once people put the shoe on, they like them.” Coppetti believes On’s CloudTec technology is resonating and is being helped by the backlash against barefoot running with On’s cushioning story. Said Coppetti, “We’re seeing fantastic growth. And it’s not only new doors but in-store growth.”


Six new franchises in May and June in Fort Mill, SC; Decatur, IL; Plattsburgh, NY; Scottsdale, AZ; Richmond, VA; and Des Moines, IA. Fleet Feet Sports Development Company will also open new locations in Cincinnati, OH, Asheville, NC and Longmeadow, MA. Longmeadow is a suburb of Springfield and will be the company’s first store in Massachusetts. These stores will be part of the company’s Operating Partner Program, its employee-to-owner program that provides the opportunity for retail employees to build a new business from the ground up, gain equity, and ultimately buy the store and become a franchise business owner. In addition to new store openings, two

independent running store owners will convert their stores to Fleet Feet Sports franchises. Both of these conversions are planned for July and details will be announced at a later date. “We are hitting on all cylinders right now in terms of driving brand growth through expansion of our retail footprint,” said Fleet Feet President and CEO, Jeff Phillips. “Our position within the specialty running channel is unique because we have developed so many ways to grow: new franchisees, existing franchisees opening multiple locations, company stores, acquisitions, and independent conversions – all strategies that align with our locally owned and operated model.”

ACQUIRES METRO RUN AND WALK Fleet Feet, Inc. purchased Metro Run and Walk in Mishawaka, IN, the neighboring town of South Bend. The formal acquisition is the 123rd store for the company. In addition to this acquisition, the company outlined its retail expansion plans for the second and third quarter; which includes nine new store openings and the conversions of two independent running specialty stores to Fleet Feet Sports franchises. 8 | JUNE 16, 2014

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NUTRITION New tastes and textures in nutrition help athletes to optimize fueling and recovery during training and competition. By Thomas J. Ryan


lif Bar is introducing its newest bars - the Mojo Fruit & Nut and Mojo Dark Chocolate made with organic whole nuts, fruit, and dark chocolate. The bars are gluten-free, under 200 calories, low glycemic and fiber packed. The five varieties include Cranberry Almond, Wild Blueberry Almond, Coconut Almond Peanut, Dark Chocolate Almond Sea Salt, and Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond. Luna Bar founded by Clif Bar Mojo Fruit & Nut Clif Bar & Co. celebrates its 15th anniversary this year launching two new bars - Protein Lemon Vanilla and Chocolate Coconut Luna Bar Protein Lemon Vanilla Almond. Working either as a pre- or post-workout fuel supplement, the gluten-free bars are less than 200 calories and contain 12 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals. Looking for alternatives to energy drinks loaded with sugar and caffeine, Nunn introduced Nuun Energy, a blend of B vitamins for energy metabolism and caffeine for increased Nuun Energy Drink endurance output and cognition. The drink contains the same optimal electrolyte blend as Nuun Active Hydration, zero added sugars, less than 12 calories and come stored in a popular, portable container. PowerBar Performance Energy Wafer Bars include PowerBar C2Max dual-source energy blend to deliver up to 50 percent more energy to muscles than glucose alone and to improve endurance performance by up to 8 percent. Features a crispy texture and layers of either Berry Yogurt or Choc- PowerBar Performance olate Peanut Butter flavored filling. The Energy Wafer Bars square-shaped bars are pre-scored for easy break-and-eat. PowerBar ProteinPlus 20g Bars in Chocolate Mint Cookie and Peanut Butter Cookie feature a crunchier texture PowerBar ProteinPlus 20g Bars

10 | JUNE 16, 2014

with a TriSource protein blend of whey, soy and casein. For consumption post workout, the bars have 20 grams of protein suggested by sports science research to promote muscle recovery and rebuilding. Skratch Labs Daily Electrolyte Mix in Lemon Lime or Raspberry, is designed to help athletes maintain optimal levels of hydration with half the calories of Skratch’s Exercise Hydration Mix, one-third the sodium, three times the fruit and no artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors, preservatives, emulsifiers or chemicals. EnergIce Premium Ice Bars contain essential B vitamins critical for rehydration, energy and metabolism Skratch Labs Daily Electrolyte Mix and help the EnergIce Premium body metabolize and obtain energy from Ice Bars fats, carbohydrates and proteins. Flavors include Artic Blast Blue Raspberry, Rocket Fuel Fruit Punch and E-Lectric Lemon Lime. Jelly Belly added two flavors to its range of Sport Beans Energizing Jelly Beans - Juicy


1. Clif Bar Shot Bloks are the Number 4 Best Seller in the Nutrition category

in the Running Specialty channel. Cherry is the best selling flavor.

2. The Protein Food/Drink Category has grown over 10 percent this fiscal year in the Athletic Speciality & Sporting Goods Channel. 3. Gatorade has increased its sales almost 250 percent in the Athletic SpecialtySporting Good channel fiscal year YTD. Cool Blue is their most popular flavor.

4. The Average Selling Price of a GU Energy Gel is between $1.35 and $1.45 depending on the flavor. Chocolate Outrage is its most popular flavor.

5. AFC/Sport Street (GU Energy Gels) has 47 percent of the energy gel market followed by Clif Bar at 43 percent. Energy gels are the biggest category in the Energy Food/ Drink category. 6. Jelly Belly Sport Beans were the best selling Energy Bite-Size product in

2013 followed closely by its own Extreme Sport Bean at Number 2.

7. PowerBar owns just under 5 percent of the Energy Bar category this fiscal year. This number has decreased every year since 2010 besides for 2012 when sales fell flat.

SportScanInfo is the weekly retail point-of-sale data reporting solution managed by The SportsOneSource Group. SportScanInfo provides the broadest, deepest and most timely data available for the U.S. sports and outdoor active lifestyle market. For more information call 303.997.7302.




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Pear and Green Apple. Using real fruit juice, purees and colors from natural sources, the Jelly Beans provide carbohydrates for fuel, electrolytes for fluid balance and vitamins to protect muscles against oxidative damage. Gluten free and made with tapioca syrup. the two flavors increase the flavor range to nine including Extreme Sport Beans, a caffeinated variety in Pomegranate, Watermelon and Cherry. GU Energy Labs introduced Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Gel and Black Cherry Chomps. Chocolate Peanut Butter is the follow-up flavor to the successful Salted Caramel Gel and is the newest “GU Gives” flavor. GU Gives is the philanthropic arm of GU Energy Labs – a portion of every sale of Chocolate Peanut Butter Gel funds charities like the Challenged Athletes Foundation. The flavor includes elevated electrolytes with 125 mg of sodium and 60mg of potassium. Black Cherry Chomps are based on the original GU Energy formula and are a blend of carbohydrates, GU’s proprietary amino acid blend, and a full serving of Vitamin C and E. They provide 180 calories and 46 grams of carbohydrates. For a heart-healthy snack, Pistachio Chewy Bites contain 50 percent pistachios complemented by cranberries and agave nectar. All natural, vegan, gluten and dairy free, low in sodium, GMO free and no cholesterol. Made by Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella, Inc., and the second largest pistachio processor in the United States. Epic Bars, available in four varieties Bison, Beef, Turkey, and Lamb - are made from 100 percent grass fed, animal-based protein that is gluten free and low in natural sugar. Grass fed animals have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids which is better for cardiovascular health and contain antiinflammatory properties. Grass fed animals also have significantly higher levels of Vitamins A and E and antioxidants. For athletes, grassfed meat is favorable and contains up to twice the levels of conjugated linoleic acid, (CLA), to promote lean muscle tissue and lowers the risk of other health issues. Probar is launching two new flavors of their Base Protein Bars (previously known as Core). Base is a new gluten-free, non-GMO, vegan protein bar, with 20g of protein, a chia and flax seed blend, 100 percent plant-based ingredients, and a dairy-free chocolate coating. The new flavors include Frosted Peanut Butter (white chocolate coated with a peanut 12 | JUNE 16, 2014

Jelly Belly Sport Beans GU Energy Labs Black Cherry Chomps

Pistachio Chewy Bites

Epic Bars

Probar Base Protein Bar & Meal Bar

Huma’s Chia Energy Gel Osmo Acute Recovery


Honey Stinger Organic Gingersnap Waffle

butter crunch on the inside) and Chocolate SuperGreens (chocolate laced with the added benefit of an organic super greens blend: barley grass, wheat grass, alfalfa). Probar’s Meal Bar is packed with fruits, nuts and seeds and enough nutrition to replace a meal. High fiber, 9 grams of protein, Omega 3 and 6, certified chemical-free (nonGMO & organic), 100 percent plant-based and made mostly from raw ingredients that keep the bars from freezing in cold temperatures or spoiling easily. New 2014 flavors include Strawberry Bliss and Almond Crunch. Huma’s Chia Energy Gel releases energy without flash-crashes or any hassle. The formula features a blend of ground chia seeds, which provides fiber content that controls the absorption of carbs for steady energy release. The addition of citric acid reduces physiological stress and lessens physical fatigue. The 100 percent all-natural ingredients are easy to swallow and eliminate stomach upset. Its 2:1 glucose (short and long chains) to fructose ratio combined with all nine essential amino acids provides maximum boost. All-natural flavors include Blueberry, Strawberries, Apples and Mangoes. Developed from published scientific research by Dr. Stacy Sims, Stanford University, Osmo Acute Recovery from Osmo Nutrition provides 15g of slow and fast release protein. The powdered drink mix increases circulating amino acids to promote muscle synthesis; reduces cortisol production and circulation; and facilitates rapid recovery. No antioxidants allow the mitochondria to adapt and overcome oxidants, also speeding glycogen restoration. Sweetened with natural dried fruit, Osmo Acute Recovery comes in Honey & Spice flavors. Designed to enhance performance by cooling the core body temperature while replenishing lost electrolytes, PowerIce embodies the “Frozen Electrolyte Theory” - the concept that recovery and hydration happen faster in a frozen state. Athletes “Cool There Core Temperature” with PowerIce before, during and after a workout with frozen, allnatural hydration. The bars also appeal to kids as an alternative to ice pops. The new Honey Stinger Organic Gingersnap Waffle contains no artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, high fructose corn syrup or trans fats at 180 calories. Honey Stingers’ Caffeinated Energy Gels, contains 32mg of caffeine derived from green tea. ■

Brooks Looks to the Future Photos courtesy Brooks


By Thomas J. Ryan

ast month, Brooks Running celebrated its 100th anniversary by inviting more than 400 of its partners to a two-day event in Seattle, WA. It also offered the news that its annual sales through April 2014, on a rolling 12 month basis, reached $500 milion - a step ahead of its goal of becoming a $1 billion brand by 2020. But even though the theme of the event was ‘The Future of Running,’ the event was largely a tribute to the past. In a keynote address, Jim Weber, CEO, Brooks Running Co., lauded Brooks’ rich running heritage well before he joined the company in 2001. The 70s saw the introduction of the Villanova and Vantage, the first midsole pronation system in the industry. It led the athletic industry to debut EVA midsoles in 1975. A few years earlier, a brief partnership led to the development of one of Nike’s earlier lines of track spikes. The 80s brought the launch of the Chariot featuring a Diagonal Rollbar, a breakthrough in motion control. Both the Beast and Adrenaline GTS arrived in the early 90s. Among the luminaries attending the event were Jerry Turner, who ran the brand in the late 60s and 70s and whom Weber credited as “really the architect of our athletic footwear strategy that led us to being so strong in run.” Also in attendance were Tom Carmody, president of Brooks, when it was owned by Wolverine Worldwide in the 80s; Helen Rockey, who ran Brooks in the nineties; and Anne Iverson, chairman of Brooks Sports from June 2001 to 2004 just before the brand’s sale to Berkshire Hathaway. Also in attendance were Greg Meyer, a former Brooks’ athlete who was the last American winner of the Boston Marathon in 1983 before Meb Keflezighi won this year; and Tom Raynor, who ran Brooks’ marketing in the 80s, and then expanded Fleet Feet to help the brand at sell-through a few years later, among others.

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The event reached back much further to showcase Brooks’ expansive reach across athletic activities over 100 years. Display cases showed leather boxing shoes and baseball cleats from the 40s, leather ice skates from the 30s in addition to many of the standout running styles from the last few decades. Also on display was the basketball model that Dominique Wilkins wore as a Brooks sponsor when he won the NBA’s slam-dunk contest in 1985. Not that Brooks didn’t face its ups and downs over the last century. The brand had many owners over the years and its many successes were seemingly soon followed by financial distress. Weber joked, “If diversity builds character, Brooks had a lot of character.” But he also admitted that Brooks “hadn’t done enough” in recent years in celebrating the brand’s “very, very colorful journey” that built a base for Brooks to make its comeback. “Every decade was colorful,” added Weber. “And just like for healthy people, for healthy businesses, it’s really all about a journey. Because the finish line is fun for a moment but it really is all about the journey. If this is a race for our company and our organization, it’s certainly an ultra and we’re only at mile 50.” The event, for most of the attendees, was a celebration of Brooks’ mostprosperous, recent period. In 2001 with Weber taking over, Brooks rebooted its strategy to focus solely on the running opportunity, exiting non-run and even classic categories as well as lower-distribution channels. Sales actually shrunk the first year to $62 million from $70 million in 2000. But the commitment to run eventually clicked and has fueled 12 sequential years of 18 percent compounded annual revenue growth. By late 2010, Brooks passed Asics to take the number one market share position at SRAs nationwide and has since built on its lead.

David Bohan, former president and COO who officially became head of the EMEA region for Brooks six weeks ago, said that when he joined Weber at Brooks in 2001, “We had no cash, a lot of debt and a lot of outdated inventory. But what we did have was the Beast, the best customer service people in the industry, and the best employee base in the industry to go after this challenge.” Many SRA owners attending the event told SGB that while the product eventually had to work, Brooks’ customer service and culture have been the primary factors supporting its success in the channel. Chris Farley, owner of Pacers Running Stores in the Washington, D.C. metro region, said, “The people who work for them really stand for what specialty running is and the mission of specialty running and they really are a true family. A lot of these guys started as tech reps and they worked their way up to become VPs and it really shows. We can relate to them very easily because they are true to specialty run.” “They do lead the industry in customer service to the retailer,” added Eddie Johnson, owner, A Snail's Pace in Southern California. “Their product is good. It’s been solid. It’s been consistent. But a combination of good product, great customer service and the culture of the brand really permeates everything around the company. It’s a great company to work with.” Chris Lampen-Crowell, co-owner Gazelle Sports, with four stores in west Michigan, agreed that Brooks’ customer service has long been “excellent and having that was important to us.” But Lampen-Crowell credited Brooks’ early commitment to partner with his stores at the grassroots level even “as their product wasn’t exactly there.” When the product improved, “it just accelerated their ability because we already had gained trust in their supporting what we wanted to do in in our community. Brooks always was a really valuable partner.” John Rogers, owner of Fleet Feet Maine Running, agreed that what sets Brooks apart from many other brands is their connectivity with the running community and running specialty. Observed Rogers, “I think over the years they totally understand and get what drives our business. And they set themselves up from an operational and a cultural viewpoint to service that opportunity.” Brian Jones, co-owner of Playmakers in Okemos, MI, described Brooks’ team as “experts” on the relationship side. Said Jones, “They’ve got a core leadership group and they built out that core that has stood with them for some time. The group of the Dave Larsens, Rick Wilhelm, Mike Billish, David Bohan, etc., we got to know them 15 years ago when they were a small company and they still walk up, know you by name, shake your hand, want to hear about your business, etc. They’re in the trenches, it’s not an ivory tower thing.” Jones also said Brooks aligns its goals around the success of its core SRA accounts. Observed Jones, “It’s like looking in a mirror when you’re looking at Brooks and Brooks is the exception to the rule. They truly get it in terms of taking care of retailers. We feel very passionate about their product and feel great about taking their boxes out of the back room.” Greg Klein, co-owner of South Sound Running, with four stores in Washington, believes a string of successful hits on the product side has played a major role in Brooks’ success. He said, “At the end of the day, you’ve got to create good product and everything comes from there. A lot of companies are interested in product and promotion and product comes second.” Colin Petty, owner of Boston’s Marathon Sports, agreed that the product has to perform. He stated, “You can do all the marketing programs that you can but if the product is not there you’re wasting your money.” But Petty believes what’s unique about Brooks is they’ve created an organization that has little bureaucracy and hires the “right people” that share the same culture and values. “It’s about the alignment of culture and values first and foremost and then an overall vision that guides everything,” said Petty. “And then having honest tried and true communication across the process and making sure they are aligning across departments towards a cohesive hole. It all starts from the leader on down and Jim has done a great job with that.” In his address, Weber thanked the attendees for their support, noting that the crowd has their “fingerprints in this story.” But he largely talked about the overall run opportunity, noting that run is the largest athletic footwear category, reaching $8.5 billion globally. With run-specific apparel at least $1 billion, the total size of the run opportunity is $10 billion, he estimated.

BROOKS SURVEY RUNNING INCREASES SEX APPEAL To celebrate National Running Day, Brooks Running Company connected with runners across the country to find out what its favorite sport means to others. The company’s second annual Brooks Run Happy Nation Report reveals the positive impact of running on and off the road. According to the survey, 76 percent of all runners (84 percent of males) believe that people look sexy when they’re running and three-quarters agree that they’d be more attracted to someone if they found out he or she was a runner. Half (51 percent) have used running as their pick-up line. Around inspiration, the survey also found 83 percent of respondents agreed they come up with their best ideas while running. “Our mission at Brooks is to inspire everyone to run and be active, and I can’t find much better inspiration than the results of this survey,” said Heather Snavely, Brooks senior director of global brand. “Who doesn’t want to feel healthier, smarter and sexier?” Survey respondents also showed: »»





Forty-two percent of respondents prefer to run before the sun rises. Of the rest, 16 percent run at lunch, 12 percent at night and 29 percent whenever they have the time; Forty-two percent have, at least once, picked a vacation for its bevvy of running options; Fifty-nine percent said jogging with a buddy makes it easier to stay on track; Almost three-quarters (73 percent) of respondents agree that attractive running gear motivates them to get up and out the door. Frequent racers (accustomed to having fans cheer them on) are more motivated by attractive running apparel than those who compete infrequently (88 percent vs. 58 percent); An overwhelming majority (78 percent) of respondents consider technology a running staple. That number rockets to 92 percent among the younger generation (18 to 24). Smartphones lead the pack as the must-have piece of running technology for 41 percent, with iPod (36 percent) and stopwatch (19 percent) closely following. Asked to pick a top tune to play on repeat for all 26.2 miles of their marathon, 59 percent chose the classic “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey. JUNE 16, 2014 |


Run has also proven to be largely recession-resistant and it also handles fashion cycles better than other athletic categories. In some other categories, if fashion trends shift, “the business gets a flu. In run, its gets a cold because of the participation base is so solid,” observed Weber. The theme of the event, “The Future of Running,’ was marked by attendees receiving a sneak peak into Brooks’ Next Lab, where its next innovations in footwear and apparel are being hatched. In footwear, Brooks showed off the latest developments of its Stride Signature theory, coming after four years of scientific research on hundreds of runners. The theory posits that every individual has a unique running form defined by the body’s habitual motion path. Identifying the individual’s ideal ‘preferred path’ is expected to help reduce injury, enhance comfort and improve performance. Using sensors on the upper and lower legs and another in the base of the back, and putting runners in a cushioned sock to simulate a foam-mat runway, developers are learning the major role the knee’s rotation plays in keeping the runner in proper alignment. The new Transcend was the first Brooks shoe to be based on the Stride Signature concept. Spring 2015 updates of the Ravenna, Transcend and Launch were also shown at the event. Its Heritage Collection, marking a return of the Vantage and Vanguard classics from the 70s in honor of its anniversary, was also on display. For apparel, technologies that reach a bodies vital signs and can adapt to a runner’s environment were on display. Keeping cool and dry with reflectivity that focuses on “recognition” rather than looking like a “traffic cone” was emphasized. Brooks upcoming apparel range, as well as new bras from sister brand, Moving Comfort, were also shown. The event also featured a museum exhibit of Run Happy, its internal slogan that came a year before Weber took over but reborn as its external mantra in 2009 with campaigns such as carnival sideshow-themed "Calvacade of Curiosities," "Carb Island" featuring giant pasta bowls, as well as Pure Heaven featuring a life harpist and Saint Peter. Two panels at the event focused on some of the more challenging aspects around the future of the running business. One on the ‘Future of Consumer Shopping Behavior’ featured Jamie Nordstrom, president of Nordstrom Direct; Matt Hyde, CEO of West Marine and former EVP at REI, and Troy Brown, EVP, e-commerce and omnichannel at Zumiez. The group largely addressed how the Internet and mobile is waylaying the traditional retail marketplace. For specialty run, one particular challenge is recognizing that store associates “are no longer the authority on your product” with the dearth of information and recommendations available across the Internet, said Nordstrom. Also discussed was the emerging digital consumer’s impatience with out-of-stocks and the challenges brick & mortar stores face competing on price and the expansive inventories of online players. Greater personalization and relevancy with consumers as well as being able to reach them across channels are being called for, the panelists agreed. Smartphones are expected to continue to reinvent brand communication in the years ahead. Some of the challenges facing elite running were addressed in a ‘Future of Competitive Running’ panel. That group included Robbie Back, a Microsoft veteran and member of Brooks’ board of advisors who joined the U.S. Olympic Committee’s board in 2011; and Keith Hanson, founder of Hansons-Brooks Original Distance Project, which supports post-collegiate runners pursuing their professional and Olympic goals. Also on the panel were Danny Mackey, head coach of Brooks Beast, a middle-distance Seattle-based training group; and his star athlete, Nick Symmonds, the number one 800m runner in the U.S. 16 | JUNE 16, 2014

The panel explored how to raise the profile of competitive running, which only reaches the public’s consciousness every four years during the Olympic games. The panel seemed to agree that the model should be tennis, with four Grand Slam tournaments every year mixed with a number of smaller ones keeping its stars funded and continually in the public eye. But arguments soon arrived over the complexities involved in finding sponsorship money, athletes’ rights versus those of events, brand versus brand competition inside sponsorships, and the influence of Nike. Whether the USA Track & Field (USATF), the sports governing body; the running brands collectively; or another group were best suited to guide any effort was also addressed. Back, who pointed out that tennis has had its own issues around sponsorships in the past, said brands and groups working together “could make the pie bigger. The challenge is somebody that has to be a leader and there has to be real individual leadership to make this happen.” Also addressed was the need for a better-televised product and better spectator experience at meets. Symmonds called the Zurich Weltklasse, where he won the 800m last year, the “best meet in the world” seemingly because both alcohol and gambling was available. Although he drew laughs, he didn’t seem to be joking in saying, “I have a reason to believe that’s the solution to a lot of our problems.” Despite some turmoil facing the sport of competitive running, Weber in his address noted that race participation is entering on its second decade of growth in the U.S. and participation continues to be the biggest supporter of the run category. Last year’s marathon finishers reached 540,000 in the U.S., up 11 percent from the year before. Nearly 2 million finished a half-marathon in the U.S. in 2013, up 7 percent. The U.S. saw about 26,000 timed races last year overall with 15 million people in total running a race. Looking back to its origins at the Olympic games of Ancient Greece and even further to 20,000 BC when caveman would rely on their legs to hunt, Weber believes running “is absolutely primal. Running is part of who we are.” But while competitive running “remains the heart and soul of the run,” Weber also believes running for “a personal pursuit” that isn’t all about speed is also driving scores to the sport. The trend toward specialization in youth sports, in which athletes play one sport year-round for expensive travel and club teams, and the overall pressures inherent in team sports, Weber believes, is leading to a shift by many people “from competing to completing and running is right in the middle of that.” In these cases, running “becomes an investment in themselves and their own health and wellness. For millions, the run becomes a powerful part of their life beyond sport.” He pointed to how Scott Jurek, a Brooks athlete who attended the event, can inspire others to run with feats such as winning the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run a record seven straight times. Desi Davilaentire, the American long-distance track runner who most recently finished 10th at the 2014 Boston Marathon, as well as the entire Brooks Beast team also represented Brooks at the event.

At the same time, scores of smaller-scale personal stories continually inspire. Weber pointed to a young man he recently met in Austin at the South by Southwest festival who used running to help deal with a debilitating form of brain cancer. He wound up starting a charity “to help other people stricken with cancer get moving again.” On more of the everyday scale, Weber talked about meeting a single-working women with two kids a few years ago who turns to running to manage her life’s daily stresses. Said Weber, “She said, ‘Everyday my run is my gift from me to me.’ And that really resonates with me.” Future challenges facing Brooks from the crowds of new and old competitors chasing the run opportunity were addressed by Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, the investment conglomerate that has owned Brooks since 2006. Although Berkshire board member and member of Brooks’ advisory board, Charlotte Guyman, attended the event, the famed investor couldn’t make it but did address Brooks’ employees last Wednesday. In a video shown of the meeting, Buffett used his popular competition metaphor around “economic castles protected by unbreachable moats" to address Brooks’ threats. He said when a company has an “economic castle,” implying Brooks, “you need the right knight guarding the place and we’ve got the right knight,” paying a complement to Weber. The brand then needs to work on its “moat” and “keep throwing piranha, sharks and snakes in there because there are people who will be trying to cross it.” While Brooks is a “great brand,” protecting its position entails “getting that brand into the head of every runner or potential runner in the world and having an expectation about that brand and then meeting that expectation. And if you do that, that moat will widen.” Buffett likewise is highly confident that “people are always going to want to run.” But the Brooks organization will have to encourage that demand and understand running’s role in improving the lives of people. “What you want in their minds about Brooks is it’s going to bring out the best in them and do the most for them and then you can’t disappoint them,” said Buffett. “And if you do that, the sky is the limit.” ■ JUNE 16, 2014 |



CALENDAR For full year calendar go to

Athletic Dealers of America 1395 Highland Avenue Melbourne, FL 32935 t 321.254.0091 f 321.242.7419 National Shooting Sports Foundation Flintlock Ridge Office Center 11 Mile Hill Road Newtown, CT 06470 t 203.426.1320 f. 203.426.1087 National Sporting Goods Association 1601 Feehanville Drive / Suite 300 Mount Prospect, IL 60056 t 847.296.6742 f 847.391.9827 Nation’s Best Sports 4216 Hahn Blvd. Ft. Worth, TX 76117 t 817.788.0034 f 817.788.8542 Outdoor Industry Association 4909 Pearl East Circle / Suite 300 Boulder, CO 80301 t 303.444.3353 f 303.444.3284




Licensing International Expo Las Vegas, NV


NBS Fall Semi - Annual Market Fort Worth, TX


Sports, Inc. Summer Team Dealer Show Nashville, TN


Imprinted Sportswear Show (ISS) Orlando, FL


Interbike International Trade Expo Las Vegas, NV SFIA Industry Leaders Summit Chicago, IL

JULY 8-11

NBS Summer Market Austin, TX



European Outdoor Trade Fair Friedrichshafen, Germany



ASI Chicago Chicago, IL



A.D.A. Spring Show Reno, Nevada



OIA Rendezvous Asheville, NC


NBS Fall Athletic Market Ft. Worth, TX


Outdoor Retailer Summer Market Salt Lake City, UT


A.D.A. Fall Show Palm Springs, CA


Sports Inc. Outdoor Show Nashville, TN


Sports, Inc. Fall Team Dealer Show Las Vegas, NV


Tennis Industry Association The Tennis Show New York, NY

Sports & Fitness Industry Association 8505 Fenton St., Suite 211 Silver Spring, MD 20910 t 301.495.6321 f 301.495.6322 Snow Sports Industries America 8377-B Greensboro Drive McLean, VA 22102 t 703.556.9020 f 703.821.8276 Sports, Inc. 333 2nd Avenue North Lewistown, MT 59457 t 406.538.3496 f 406.538.2801 Sports Specialists Ltd. 590 Fishers Station Drive / Suite 110 Victor, NY 14564 t 585.742.1010 f 585.742.2645 Team Athletic Goods 629 Cepi Drive Chesterfield, MO 63005 t 636.530.3710 f 636.530.3711 Tennis Industry Association 1 Corpus Christi Place, Suite 117 Hilton Head Island, SC 29928 t. 843.686.3036 f. 843.686.3078 Worldwide 8211 South 194th Kent, WA 98032 t 253.872.8746 f 253.872.7603

18 | JUNE 16, 2014


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