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Mon, Aug 28, 2017
Vol 1, Issue No. 33
Monday, October 23, 2017
Volume 1, Issue No. 41

What's Next for the Five Big Brands?

Mid-October, after the end of Back-to-School and before the two-month holiday season commences, has historically been a quieter news period for the athletic brands. But not in this anything but ordinary year in the North American market. Developments abounded last week, days before Puma was slated to report a stellar third quarter and Nike was set to host a day-long investor conference where some investors predicted Swoosh senior management may look to lower the company’s multi-year growth targets.

With the NBA season underway and the Fall Classic about to begin in Los Angeles, we break down the latest from five top athletic brands.

Nike will host an investor conference at its headquarters on Wednesday. Goldman Sachs dropped its rating on NKE to neutral from buy last week, citing “challenging near-term dynamics” but “compelling underpinnings” at the company. The brand’s biggest issue in its home market, according to the investment bank, is “persistent excess inventory” sitting at its retailers and “the high visibility” such products get when sold through Amazon and other websites. Analyst Lindsay Drucker Mann also wrote that “there are incremental signs of weakness emerging overseas” for Nike.

For Skechers, international growth is one reason analysts have become bullish on the company and its fortunes for FY18. The brand’s growth in China, where ground will be broken for a new distribution center in H2/18, was up approximately 50 percent in the third quarter. Revenues there will likely hit $500 million or more this year and could break the $1 billion mark within 2-3 years.

Adidas, which got slapped with a 15-page complaint from fired Louisville men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino on Oct. 17 seeking compensatory and punitive damages for alleged “tort of outrage,” was lauded by Oppenheimer last week for its market-leading speed-to-market and product innovation strategies. The investment house, which reiterated its outperform on Adidas, reported the company now has 20 percent of its footwear production for NEO, training and soccer in Western Europe on a lead time of less than 45 days. That percentage exceeds Nike’s speed-to-market rate, it opined.

Puma, reportedly in place to replace Adidas as the kit sponsor for Italy’s AC Milan soccer club next summer, is forecasting strong FY17 results after Q3 revenues grew more than 13 percent to about $1.3 billion and earnings before income taxes jumped 83 percent. The Kering-owned company is presently forecasting FY currency-adjusted revenues to rise 14-16 percent versus prior guidance of 12-14 percent. Another strong quarter for The Cat, buoyed by fashion growth in the U.S., has some suggesting the brand’s luxury brand-focused, French parent is again eyeing a divestiture of the business.

At Under Armour, which reports Q3 results on Halloween, Stifel Nicolaus predicted the company’s ongoing restructuring that involves stabilizing its North American apparel business and further expanding internationally could result in the forfeiture of $100-200 million in annual revenues by exiting a number of categories—fishing, surf, winter sports and fitness devices.

Are Subscription Boxes Another Growth Avenue for Brands?

In the same week, six-year-old Stitch Fix filed for an IPO, Under Armour announced it too would jump into the fashion subscription box business with the launch of ArmourBox. UA won’t charge subscribers a monthly fee or for shipping as it delivers 4-6 pieces of Under Armour gear to the customer every month, two months or 90 days. If a subscriber purchases everything sent to him or her, a 20-percent discount will be applied.

UA’s strategy to follow the likes of Fabletics, Rent the Runway and Stitch Fix, begs the questions—Is a subscription service a profitable way to service and learn more about your most ardent customers? Will other athletic brands soon follow suit?

Stitch Fix, which had nearly 2.2 million active subscribers as of July 29 and $977.1 million in 2017 sales, generates most of its revenue from women’s apparel. It recently ventured into other segments as it ships apparel items from over 700 brands and employs 200 client experience associates among its 5,800 employees. This month, the San Francisco firm purchased a 24,000-square-foot knitting, cutting and sewing operation in Pennsylvania to experiment making very small quantities of apparel to test with its customers.

The company, which reports customers spent an average of $489 in 2016, forecasts that footwear/apparel/accessories that accounted for 15.5 percent of the $353 billion ecommerce market in 2016 will grow to 22.3 percent of a $421 billion ecommerce market in 2021. The repeat rate among its active customers grew to 86 percent last year from 83 percent in 2016.

Textile Insight
Hanesbrands, Helly Hansen Make Acquisitions

HBI’s purchase of privately-held Alternative Apparel, a Norcross, GA maker of better lifestyle apparel basics, for $60 million cash marks the fourth acquisition for the Hanes and Champion parent in the last six years. The previous deals were Gear for Sports, Knights Apparel and GTM Sportswear. Alternative, founded in 1995 and projected to generate approximately $70 million in FY17 revenues, outsources 100 percent of its production while Hanesbrands self-makes the majority of its activewear basics. Distribution includes the embellishment channel, traditional retail, online and own stores in Venice, CA; SoHo, New York City; and San Francisco.

“We will be able to leverage our global low-cost supply chain… with another strong brand to expand our market and channel penetration,” said Hanesbrands CEO Gerald W. Evans Jr.

Alternative Apparel CEO Evan Toporek will continue leading the company for HBI out of its Norcross offices.

Meanwhile, Helly Hansen, in a play to strengthen its market position in the United Kingdom and establish a foothold in the global sailing market, has acquired British outdoor apparel brand Musto for a reported $65.9 million from Phoenix Equity Partners. Established in the 1960s by Olympic sailor Keith Musto, the company will continue to be spearheaded by CEO Peter Smith who report to Helly Hansen CEO Paul Stoneham.

Stoneham, who becomes Musto’s executive chairman, wants to expand the brand internationally as an iconic British lifestyle brand with a strong technical sailing pedigree. Musto, which realized a 10 percent drop in annual revenues in FY16 to the equivalent of $37.7 million, also has a presence in the shooting, equestrian and ski markets.

As for Helly, 75-percent controlled by Canada’s Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, the outwear company thinks it can accelerate Musto’s growth path through access to its global distribution network and R&D capabilities.

Vans Drives VF

The lifestyle athletic brand generated 26 percent, currency-neutral revenue growth in the third quarter ended September 30, including 22 percent in the Americas’ region and 39 percent in the EMEA. Overall, VFC experienced accelerated growth in international, Direct-to-Consumer, Outdoor & Action Sports and Workwear in the period.

Based on what it sees as a stronger growth trajectory for the remainder of FY17, the North Face and Timberland parent raised its full-year outlook. Total annual revenues are now projected to increase 6 percent to approximately $12.1 billion. Outdoor & Action Sports sales are now forecast to gain 7 percent for the year versus a prior estimate of 5 percent. DTC is now expected to increase 13 percent against prior expectations of a 10-11 percent increase, and digital revenues are forecast to rise 30 percent instead of a 25 percent estimate.

Retail Round-Up
Walmart Wants More Startups; Target Will Remodel 55 Percent of Doors

After spending $4 billion on acquisitions over the last year, discount behemoth Walmart says it intends to continue with its buying spree through a focus on start-ups in technology, retail and digital native brands. Marc Lore, CEO of Walmart eCommerce U.S., told a conference crowd last week that the retailer is empowering leaders of its acquired firms such as Moosejaw Mountaineering and Modcloth “to basically run the category across the entire entity.” Additionally, Lore disclosed that Walmart currently has the infrastructure in place for overnight delivery to 87 percent of the U.S.

Meanwhile, discount rival Target Corp. now intends to remodel 1,000 of its current 1,800 stores by the end of 2020 as it also focuses on opening smaller doors in urban locations and college towns. It currently has 55 small stores in operation.

Dick’s Sporting Goods will end October by increasing its presence in Washington State to 10 stores with the opening of three doors in the Puget Sound region (Bellevue, Tukwila and Tacoma) this upcoming weekend (Oct. 27-29).

Nordstrom’s planned strategy to go private has officially been postponed until after the conclusion of the holiday season. The Seattle-based upscale department store has had some issues with the financing of the proposed transaction.

Midwest Sporting Goods, a family-owned team dealer in Fort Smith, AR for more than 77 years, is going to close down in the coming months following the September death of co-owner David Whitson.

Foot Locker Foundation hosted its 17th Annual On Our Feet fundraising gala last week at New York’s Chelsea Piers. Proceeds benefit educational and other youth initiatives. Executives from Nike, Converse, Adidas, Puma, Under Armour and others attended the event along with a string of current and former athletes.

Amazon had 90 million Prime members as of September 30 and 95 percent of them intend to renew their memberships, according to Consumer Intelligence Research. Also, the e-tailer, which is beginning the process to sort through city bids for its second corporate headquarters, is leasing the top six floors of Macy’s downtown Seattle building for a late summer 2018 move-in, according to a published report.

Outdoor Retailer Sets New Show Schedule Through 2022

The industry trade show, following its recent alliance with Snowsports Industries of America, will have three events annually in Denver for the next five years. After 2018, when OR will take place in late January (Jan. 25-28) for the OR +Snow Show, late July (July 23-26) and early November (Nov. 8-11), the shows are slated for early January, mid-June and early November. Registration for exhibitors and independent reps for the January 2018 show will open in mid-November.

“By re-establishing Outdoor Retailer as a launch event, the shows are able to influence ‘how’ retailers buy, rather than ‘when’ they buy,” OR VP and Show Director Marisa Nicholson said in a prepared statement. “…Brands benefit from early retailer feedback to guide forecasting and production. The industry benefits from everyone coming together to share ideas.”

Outdoor Insight
Golden State's SB-5 Supports Outdoor Rec; REI's 2nd Outessa Series

Photo Credit: Elena Pressprich

California voters next June will be asked to support a $4 billion bond issue that would make a number of key investments in the Golden State’s $92 billion outdoor recreation economy. Among them: $725 million for the creation and expansion of safe neighborhood parks, $218 million for the restoration, preservation and protection of existing state park facilities and $443 million to adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change while also improving and protecting coastal and rural economies and developing future recreational opportunities. The Outdoor Industry Association says the bill, SB-5, brings together two of its main priorities—outdoor places and climate change. California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill that will go before state voters on the June 5, 2018 statewide primary election ballot.

In a separate development, 32 partner brands teamed with co-operative REI this summer for the second Outessa retreat series that brought together nearly 1,000 women in Kirkwood, CA; Mount Hood, OR and Waterville Valley, NH in immersive three-day weekend retreats. Along with partner brand representatives, who received first-hand feedback from women outdoor consumers, classes were taught by 65 top REI Outdoor School female instructors.

For the co-op, Outessa is part of a broader effort called Force of Nature to advance gender equity in the outdoors. Its objective is to make sure women are just as inspired and equipped as men to embrace life outside.

ASICS, Bauer Hockey Rollout New Advertising Campaigns

Steve Aoki. Photo from ASICS.

ASICS is partnering with DJ/producer and fitness fanatic, Steve Aoki, on its new I MOVE ME campaign in North America. The effort marks the Japanese brand’s most significant, fully integrated marketing effort in two decades as the campaign aims to bring people together and inspire them to be healthy and happy through movement. An initial I MOVE ME film, focused on music and movement, also features Kinjaz, Overthrow Boxing Club, Cobra Fitness Club and Asics-sponsored athletes and Olympians, Jordan Burroughs and Lolo Jones.

Bauer Hockey, meanwhile, is focusing on the women’s game in an effort to grow and advance female hockey. The Women’s Movement Never Stops campaign features Hilary Knight of the U.S. and two-time Olympic gold medalist Marie-Philip Poulin of Canada. A social media contest with the hashtag #WomensMovementNeverStops will supply a winner an all-expense paid trip to see the U.S vs. Canada game December 17 in Edmonton and an opportunity to meet Poulin and Knight.

The Buzz

Fanatics creates a college division that will focus on increasing its offerings in the segment and providing partners with a more sophisticated way to connect directly with fan bases and alumni through broader, more-timely merchandise assortments. Additionally, the company acquires the collegiate licensing service of Fermata Partners from CAA Sports. Two founding members of Fermata, Derek Eiler and Chris Prindiville will join Fanatics College. The Fermata teams overseeing collegiate licensing will remain in Atlanta and operate as a separate division.

Ortholite, the global supplier of open cell foam insoles, hires 27-year Nike veteran Larry O’Brien as key account sales manager based in the company’s Portland, OR sales office.

StockX launches a streetwear vertical to further refine the concept of ‘new luxury’ on its ‘buy and sell’ platform and taps 15-year streetwear reseller Rob Gonzalez to lead the effort. Supreme will initially be the vertical’s exclusive brand with more than 3,000 products available. The Detroit company expects to add Bape, Kith and Off-White to the vertical eventually.

Tubes of the Week


Numbers In Play
Week of 10/12-10/19
The Sports Insight Index is our opinion of what we think are the 30 most important public companies in the industry, 15 vendors and 15 retailers. Space considerations prevent us from tracking more, but we will make changes over time.
Index base of 100 is key to the closing prices of 12/31/14
Nine up and six down as the segment falls less than 1 percent for the week. Sports Direct’s billionaire CEO Mike Ashley says he is selling Premier League team, Newcastle United F.C., before Christmas since the parent company of the retailer and soccer team continues to lose money. Camping World acquired specialty retailer Uncle Dan’s Outfitters as it aims to expand brand awareness through its new MLB deal. Under the arrangement, the retailer is granted rights to produce a variety of MLB-licensed items in a variety of consumer product categories. Kohl’s stores in the Chicago market, among them Elmhurst park and Tingley Park, are the first to accept Amazon returns in new in-store shops called Amazon Smart Home Shops. Finish Line shares lost nearly 3 percent for the week. Considering the Sports Direct development, might it no longer be a FINL suitor? If not, maybe rival Foot Locker would be next in line? Tilly’s Co-founder Tilly Levine has sold 380,000 shares in the specialty retailer since August 16, including 50,000 shares last week.
The segment falls below an Index score of 100 for the first time in a month with eight down and seven up for the period. Adidas is launching six city-themed running shoes, starting in London, to capitalize on its German (and soon-to-open) U.S. Speedfactories. The AM4LDN goes on sale in the United Kingdom this week for about $260. Amer Sports wants to double its B2C revenues over the next three years by driving traffic, conversion and basket size across retail and ecommerce. Some of the Finnish company’s brands are sold online; others refer consumers to retailers. VF Corp., expected to beat third quarter earnings projections, has seen positive revenue results from its Outdoor & Action Sports Coalition for the last two quarters. The company completed its $820 million acquisition of Dickies’ parent, Williamson-Dickie, earlier this month. Skechers, which intends to break ground on a China distribution center in Q3/ or Q4/18 before a 2019 completion date, says China is a $500 million business now that will reach $1 billion within 2-3 years. Under Armour enters the subscription box space with ArmourBox, which will select 4-6 items for a profiled customer and send them out monthly or every 60-90 days. Customers have a week to try it all on before only paying for what they keep.





Retail Name (Ticker Symbol)
Close on 10/12/17
Close on 10/19/17
% change over time
Big 5 Sporting Goods (BGFV)
Sports Direct (LON: SPD)
Camping World (CWH)
Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS)
Finish Line (FINL)
Foot Locker (FL)
Genesco (GCO)
Hibbett Sports (HIBB)
Kohl’s (KSS)
Macy’s (M)
Sportsman’s Warehouse (SPWH)
Shoe Carnival (SCVL)
Tilly’s (TLYS)
Walmart (WMT)
Zumiez (ZUMZ)
Brand Name (Ticker Symbol)
Close on 10/12/17
Close on 10/19/17
% change over time
Acushnet Holdings (GOLF)
adidas (ADDYY)
Amer Sports (AGPDY)
Callaway (ELY)
Columbia Sportwear (COLM)
Deckers Brands (DECK)
Fitbit (FIT)
GoPro (GPRO)
lululemon (LULU)
Nautilus (NLS)
Nike (NKE)
Skechers (SKX)
Under Armour (UA)
VF Corp. (VFC)
Wolverine Worldwide (WWW)

Sports Insight Extra Podcast Series

Bob Smith

The design consultant who began his 20-year career as a graphic artist for Nike dishes on the blur between lifestyle and performance and the importance of Struktur, the creative conference for active, outdoor and urban design.

Rob & Mike Barnes

The co-founders of Selkirk Sports, a Hayden, ID maker of Pickleball paddles and accessories, dish on the rise of the sport that counted 2.5 million participants in 2015.

Brendan Candon

CEO of SidelineSwap, an online marketplace for used sports gear and equipment, dishes on the market and whether it steps on the toes of traditional, full-line retailers.

Dave McGillivray

The long-time race director and long-distance runner weighs in on marathon participation, the future of event marketing and his latest venture that may bring a marathon to a MLB ballpark near you.

Paul Froio

Reebok’s VP of U.S. Retail and Direct-to-Consumer channels talks about the company’s new South Boston headquarters and adjacent global flagship store.

Aquiles M. Bermùdez P.

The former president of the Dominican Association of Free Zone Companies and current member of the National Commission of Footwear addresses the industry, Dominican Republic’s infrastructure and Footwear Technology Institute.

W. Andrew Martin

The managing director for Baird in Charlotte, NC discusses the M&A climate, consumer loyalty to brands today and the impact of private label.

Mark Sullivan

The president of Formula4Media, LLC previews The Running Event conference and trade show set for November 28-December 1 in Austin, Texas.

Bryan Smeltzer

The general manager of Zamst Americas talks sports protectives, dispelling some of the consumer and athlete misconceptions about the category.

Emily Walzer

Formula4Media colleagues Emily Walzer, Textile Insight editor, Jennifer Beaudry-Ernst, footwear specialist, and contributor Kurt Gray, owner of SimplyGrayDesign, dish on key trends from the final Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City.

Judith A. Russell

Shifting consumer purchasing patterns are vital to understanding today’s marketplace. Russell, a marketing and strategic planning professional, offered up her thoughts at TexWorld in New York on a panel with Sports Insight Extra’s Bob McGee.

Will Decker

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Matthew Lyon

In the fragmented hydration market, where price points for performance products are on the rise, HydraPak is an OE supplier to numerous brands and has its own lightweight, flexible products.

Eric Hayes

Superfeet Celebrates 40th Anniversary. The employee-owned company introduces footwear and rolls out a 3D printed insole program.

Shawn Neville

BOA introduces New Tech and Names New CEO. Nothing will constrict Boa Technology CEO Shawn Neville from helping the Denver company improve its customized fit solution.

Waingarten and Frydlewski

No strings attached. The married Argentinean couple has raised nearly $20 million for Hickies, a Brooklyn company addressing how athletic shoes are closed around the foot two eyelets at a time.

Michelle Carmichael

The Co-founder and Managing Partner of Partners Growth, which brings premium brands into the U.S. market, talks Finnish children’s wear brand Reima. 

Brian Beckstead

Six-year old Altra is teaming with Utah State University to develop outdoor design talent.

Declan Condron

Let's Go Hyperwear: Former Equinox personal trainer merges the innovative, functional fitness gear from Austin, TX company with programming for schools, camps and institutions.

Hugues Gontier

Sly and Simple. and its technology enable a retailer to interact with customers in store and track traffic. No beacon required. The CMO explains the benefits of the platform.

Reza Raji

The CEO of Xenio Systems talks about the company’s new platform that tracks where shoppers spend time in physical stores and its patented hyper-positioning technology.

Jacob Torres Espino

The director of export promotion for Mexico’s Guanajuato State government agency addresses the proposed impact of the Border Adjustment Tax by the U.S. and the possibility of a renegotiated NAFTA free trade agreement.

Isabelle Ohnemus

The founder and CEO of EyeFitU, a former investment banker, talks ‘glocal’ assortments, shoppers’ personal sizing and global web payment options.

Tom Cove #2

The president and CEO of the SFIA addresses the most serious threat the industry has faced in the past half-century and the expected re-introduction of the PHIT Act by Congress.

Matteo Scarparo

The Italian global trade expert in footwear talks about the present and future of TheMicam trade show and the potential impact of a Border Adjustment Tax in the U.S. on imported shoes.

Dr. James Eakin

Dr. James Eakin, chief marketing officer and director of U.S. operations for Xenoma, discusses the Japan company’s e-skin shirt and entire wearable category.

Rusty Saunders

Industry senior statesman Rusty Saunders dishes on industry leadership, pressing issues and the inactivity pandemic.

Barbara Barclay

Expert Barbara Barclay, president of RightEye, talks eye-tracking technology and her company’s recent alliance with Major League Baseball and USA Baseball.

Julie Sylvester

Julie Sylvester, Executive Producer at Living in Digital Times, talks trends likely to emerge at Sports and FitnessTech Summit at CES in Las Vegas.

Chris Palmer

Chris Palmer, Founder and CEO of BoxFox, talks excess inventory and solutions for vendors, retailers and distributors.

Susie McCabe

Susie McCabe, SVP of global retail for Under Armour who previously spent 16 years at The Ralph Lauren Corp., dishes on UA’s retail strategy and new Brand House in Boston.

Tom Cove

On the eve of Election Day, we talk to three leading industry lobbyists on how the results may impact trade in the sporting goods, outdoor and apparel and footwear industries.

Rich Harper

On the eve of Election Day, we talk to three leading industry lobbyists on how the results may impact trade in the sporting goods, outdoor and apparel and footwear industries.

Stephen Lamar

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Bill McInnis

The president of Reebok Future discusses the intent of the unit and the brand’s plans to develop footwear in a new way.

Tom Fowler

Polar USA CEO Tom Fowler talks technology and the future of smart wearables.

Paul Schille

TREW CEO Paul Schille dishes on the eight-year old company in the process of completing its Series A round of funding and his dual career.

Jason Kaplan

Milestone Sports CEO Jason Kaplan dishes on the company’s low-cost, wearable pod and how it will help specialty retailers connect.

Duncan Finigan

OOFOS marketing executive talks about the recovery footwear brand and candidly about her courageous personal health journey.

Matt Priest

Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America President Matt Priest the likelihood of the Trans-Pacific Partnership being passed soon.

David and Josh Higgins

ING Source executives dish about compression technology and the Hickory, NC company’s breakthrough OS1st Brace Layer System.

Charles Liberge

Jones & Vining’s Charles Liberge addresses strategies and directions for the iconic brand.

Jim Baugh

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Sue Dooley and John Daher

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Josh Shaw

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Tim Porth

Tim Porth of Octane Fitness talks trends, Zero Runner and the company’s January acquisition by Nautilus Inc.

David Costello

The principal and founder of Rising Tide Associates talks about industry advocate lobbying for the domestic textile and footwear industries.

Steven D’Angelo

The ‘47 brand executive dishes on the Boston company and long-time MLB licensee founded by his father Arthur and his late Uncle Henry.

Pam Gelsomini and CB Tuite

Pam Gelsomini, president, and CB Tuite, VP–sales, discuss the company’s products, partnerships and what’s new for the season ahead.

Kenneth G. Andres

The tradeshowdirector for the American Sportfishing Association casts comments on the activity’s popularity, and trends in fishing.

Dick Sullivan

The principal and founder of Rising Tide Associates talks about industry advocate lobbying for the domestic textile.

Dave Coradini

The VP of sales and sponsorships for Spalding, Dave Coradini talks Shot Tracker and basketball.

Scott McGuire

The executive brand and product innovation leader dishes to F4M’s Emily Walzer on an array of topics.

Kelly Davis

Snow Sports Industries of America’s Kelly Davis talks weather, participation trends and how to handle the psyche.

Kevin Davis

The CEO of Performance Sports Group dishes on new bat standards and Own the Moment.

Gene McCarthy, Pt 2

Gene McCarthy, president of Asics America, speaks to Jen Ernst Beaudry on specialty run and more in the second part of the podcast.

Gene McCarthy, Pt 1

Gene McCarthy, new president of Asics Americas, dishes to F4M’s Jen Ernst Beaudry in the first of a two-part podcast.

Richie Woodworth

Saucony’s Richie Woodworth offers his views on brand’s running business and what it takes to manage through change.

Bruce Cazenave

Bruce Cazenave, CEO of Nautilus Inc., recently ranked 23rd on Fortune’s “Fastest Growing Companies” list.

Tony Armand

Armand is leading USB, created after the April merger of Shock Doctor and McDavid.

Gary Smith

Gary Smith has been at the helm of the Lawrence, MA firm for three years, and his 2016 strategies will broaden Polartec’s scope.

Marty Hanaka

City Sports CEO Marty Hanaka has 42 years in retail, starting at Sears in 1973.

Mike Dowse

Wilson Sporting Goods, one year removed from its 100th anniversary and a major restructuring, has a renewed focus and strategy.