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Mon, Aug 28, 2017
Vol 1, Issue No. 33
Monday, December 4, 2017
Volume 1, Issue No. 47

Running Industry Embraces Austin Again

Last week, Formula4Media-owned The Running Event took place in Austin, Texas with more than 850 specialty retail executives and race directors attending the conference and a trade show of more than 250 exhibitors.

Footwear brands at the 12th annual event brought their A-game — and it was clear that the 2018 story in running will be focused on what happens under the foot, whether it’s new cushioning technologies, new outsole geometries or more.

Brooks will be bringing the second shoe featuring its DNA Amp cushioning to market with the $120 Ricochet, which leaves the ultra-responsive material underfoot but pairs it with the brand’s BioMoGo DNA foam for a lighter and faster shoe.

The brand will also debut its new DNA Loft midsole foam in the Glycerin 16 and Ghost 11 cushioned styles. DNA Loft, which uses rubber reinforcement on the foam cell walls, allows more air to be blown into the material for a super airy, super-cushiony ride. Brice Newton, senior manager of global footwear merchandising for Brooks, said runners should expect to see the material move more widely across the cushioning spectrum of shoes in future seasons.
The Seattle-based company is also teaming with HP Inc. and Superfeet to deliver personalized running shoes via the FitStation powered by HP and Brooks Run Signature. Starting in June 2018 at select retailers, consumers will have the ability to special order personalized footwear following a 3D foot scan, gait analysis and foot pressure measurements taken by the in-store device. FitStation analysis translates into specific requirements for each shoe. They are produced by Superfeet on a DESMA polyurethane injection-molding machine that uses the 3D foot scans to determine the proper lasts to build the shoe around. All personalized footwear will be made in the U.S. at Superfeet’s headquarters in Ferndale, WA.

Baltimore-based Under Armour is also banking on a cushioning play as it looks to win over runners (and potentially gun-shy running retailers). Two Spring ’18 shoes — the HOVR Phantom ($130) and the HOVR Sonic ($100) — both showcase the brand’s new HOVR midsole material, an olefin-based polymer developed in conjunction with Dow Chemical that Under Armour wraps in a textile mesh it calls Energy Web that it says allows for additional energy return to the runner.

Other brands are using different tacks to change up the ride of their shoes. Lexington, MA-based Saucony is launching a contoured midsole in the Freedom ISO 2. The $160 runner will debut 6/1 to the run specialty channel (and 7/1 everywhere else) and will be the first of many: according to Doug Smiley, global business unit manager for running footwear said that the molded footbed should be integrated throughout the entirety of the line by Spring ’19.

Hoka One One, a division of Goleta, CA-based Deckers Outdoor Corp., is launching the $170 Evo Mafate shoe for fall, a riff on its classic Mafate runner designed to stay cushioned over long-distance trail runs. And Annency, France-based trail specialist Salomon continues to refine its road running line. For Fall ’19, the lasts of the Sonic family of shoes have tuned to be a little wider and more consistent with road shoes across the industry, and the geometry of the outsoles road have been tweaked to provide even more seamless guidance as the foot moves through the gait cycle.

Meanwhile, at the TRE Awards Banquet where retired long-distance runner Meb Keflezighi was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award, women dominated. Fleet Feet Chicago’s Catherine Moloznik took home the Just Do It award from Nike. Sister-owner Kate Pezalla and Anne Pezalla of Lively Athletics in Oak Park, IL captured the Ubuntu award from Balega Sports, Jenni Peters of Varsity Sports took home the Run for Good award from Saucony and Carolina Ysuda of Naperville Running Company (IL) was honored with the Run Happy award from Brooks. Other retail winners included: FrontRunners, Victoria, British Columbia as Canadian Retailer of the Year honored by New Balance Canada; Runner’s Roost of Denver with the Never Stop Exploring award from The North Face and Ragged Mountain Running of Charlottesville, VA with the Sound Mind, Sound Body award from Asics.

For more coverage from the TRE trade show floor, including video interviews, check out The Running Event on Instagram:

Trump Administration Set to Drastically Shrink Public Lands

More than two million acres of public lands, including 84 percent of the Bears Ears National Monument and half of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, are set to be stripped of federal protections. The actions, slated to be announced by the Trump Administration in Utah today, have been denounced by the outdoor industry companies and members, including Patagonia.

The Outdoor Industry Association says a federal plan to reduce Bears Ears to 201,397 acres from more than 1.35 million acres and Grand Staircase-Escalante to 997,490 acres from nearly 1.9 million are “detrimental” to the $887 billion outdoor recreation economy and the 7.6 million U.S. jobs it supports.

Patagonia, which suggests the moves are only the first steps in the Trump Administration’s “attack on America’s national monuments and protected areas,” says it will join environmental organizations and Native American tribes in filing lawsuits to protect the lands.

“It is apparent that the president is playing politics with these sacred lands and the monument review process was a total sham,” Patagonia said in a Dec. 2 email to concerned parties, citing 98 percent of nearly three million public comments supporting the maintenance or expansion of national monuments.

Quiksilver Parent Makes Bid for Billabong

Boardriders Inc., the parent of Quiksilver, Roxy and DC Shoes that is majority-owned by Oaktree Capital, late last week made a $150 million, non-binding offer for rival Billabong, which owns eight surfwear brands. It should be noted that Oaktree, which took Quiksilver private in 2016 after a $600 million refinancing deal, owns 19 percent of Billabong via a $350-million refinancing deal and is one of the Australian company’s senior lenders.

The merger proposal of A$1.00 a share for Billabong is subject to a number of conditions. Among them: secured financing and a unanimous recommendation from the board of publicly-traded company. Goldman Sachs is advising Billabong.

Meanwhile, published reports suggest the biggest obstacle facing the two apparel companies, if they do indeed merge, may be their combined global retail footprint of more than 1,000 doors and over distribution worldwide. Already, approximately 30 percent of Billabong’s locations in the U.S. are slated to close by 2020, but lease contracts could make further tightening difficult.

Retail Round-Up
Zumiez Banks on Upside from New Brands; NFL Hits Times Square

In 2017, the lifestyle retailer Zumiez has debuted more than 100 new brands in its stores and online. And the chain’s senior management is hopeful some of these labels will become important growth drivers for the business over the next 2-3 years.

“Emerging brands become growth brands and that’s why we are talking a lot about how we keep feeding young brands into the system,” CEO Rick Brooks told analyst last week.

In the third quarter, Zumiez comparable store sales rose 7.9 percent, ahead of 4-6 percent guidance, as total North American revenues increased 10 percent to $223.1 million. Online generated 14.5 percent of global revenues versus 12.8 percent in the year-ago period. The retailer is currently forecasting 3-5 percent comp growth in the fourth quarter with total revenues in the $291-297 million range.

• NPD’s Marshal Cohen referred to Thanksgiving and Black Friday as “a mixed bag” with early parts of each day busy but ongoing store traffic hardly stellar or consistent store to store. But CivicScience research suggests more shoppers did holiday shopping over the long weekend this year than in 2016 or 2015.

• NFL and Cirque du Soleil Entertainment have opened their 40,000-square-feet, four-floor NFL Experience in New York City’s Times Square. The entertainment attraction’s numerous experiential features include a 4D theater; a SuitUp section where guests select a team and jersey number to create a computer-generated image of their favorite star; and a food area where dishes will be served from all 31 NFL stadium chefs.

• The NFL was cited as the biggest negative impact weighing on Lids’ sales in the third quarter. Although the Genesco-owned banner also was hurt by lower NCAA sales on “less favorable performances” by key schools and a MLB playoff line-up that failed to measure up to the Cubs’ rise to World Series victor in 2016. Lids will be more promotional in the fourth quarter to keep inventories clean. The retailer is testing a new store design, including one that opened at Westfield SouthCenter in Seattle last week that features a clear product presentation, narrower assortments, a “showcase orientation,” and a larger emphasis on interactive experiences such as custom embroidery.

EPIC Brands Acquires Sport Science

EPIC Brand Management Group, LLC acquired 12-year-old Sport Science, LLC, known for its polyester blend activewear, last month. The emerging company intends to expand its commitment to event organizers and retailers in the running and outdoor markets and retain the Sport Science brand. Kevin Williams, president of EPIC, was named president and CEO of Sport Science with Sport Science founder Neal Caplowe moving to EVP of business development and sales.

Caplowe started Sport Science after determining a market need for comfortable, performance activewear made in the U.S. The company has a long history of providing custom graphic-design and printing services for retailers, manufacturers and performance-related events. Last week, the company was the supplier of the Official Finisher Shirt for the Indie 5K at The Running Event in Austin, TX.

Salt Life Continues to Deliver for Delta Apparel

Brand sales for Salt Life increased 6.3 percent for the fiscal year ended Oct. 31 and 6.9 percent in the fourth quarter despite the impact of hurricanes on key markets. Annual ecommerce revenues were up 40 percent year-over-year.

Key to Salt Life’s growth for the 12 months was expansion of performance products and retail doors. In Spring 2018, for example, brand products will available in all Buckle locations. On the own store front, new doors are set to debut in Daytona Beach, FL and Columbus, GA.

Elsewhere, Delta’s Basic segment generated 1.1 percent revenue growth for the period ended September 30 to $280.3 million on strength in activewear where the FunTees private label business generated record revenues. Soffe sales, however, dipped $7.9 million for the year due to lost sales from bankrupt retailers. However, Soffe’s B2C revenues increased 21 percent for the year.

The Buzz

New Balance found itself on both sides of international litigation news last week. In China, the company is suing the parent of company that is marketing the “New Bunren” brand in China. Both brand names are spelled identically in Chinese and New Bunren is reportedly using a series of “N” marks that are similar to those owned by New Balance. Meanwhile, Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini is seeking $2.7 million in damages after NB terminated his contract for wearing boots without the company logo. 

Puma, days ahead of the World Cup 2018 groupings announcement, releases the 2018 home kit for Uruguay that incorporates the Sol de Mayo into its design and evoKNIT thermoregulation technology for moisture management. Also, The Cat sees endorser Rickie Fowler capture his fifth pro career win at The 2017 Hero World Challenge, using the King F8+ driver for the first time and donning the new Puma Golf P Snapback Cap.

RG Barry Brands hires 20-year footwear veteran Bob Mullaney, most recently president and COO of (formerly as president and CEO. The former president of Americas for The Rockport Company will lead Pickerington, OH-based RG Barry and its portfolio of brands—Dearfoams, Baggallini and Foot Petals. 

WarDog Lacrosse, based in Burlington, NC, will be the official provider of athletic socks for the 2018 Major League Lacrosse (MLL) season following a period of collaboration with MLL teams. The company, launched in early 2017 and co-founded by Callum Brown, is creating custom sock designs for all nine MLL teams. The socks, made primarily of nylon, polyester, Coolmax and spandex, will be made available to collegiate, high school and middle school lacrosse teams and players.

Tubes of the Week


Numbers In Play
Week of 11/24-11/30
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
In what may be a first for segment since inception of Index, all 15 stocks rose for the period. Aggregate increase was more than 3 percent. Macy’s is hiring 7,000 additional seasonal workers beyond the 80,000 initially hired. Hibbett Sports, meanwhile, renewed its $30 million revolver for six months through April 30, 2018 and opened a 6,000-sq. ft. store in Yucca Valley, CA in a former Walmart. “Strict inventory and expense management” continues at Tilly’s where shares rose 25 percent after reporting third quarter results. At Zumiez, retailer’s revenues topped estimates for a sixth consecutive quarter and comparable store sales gained 7.9 percent on strength in men’s and juniors. Chain has 699 doors worldwide. Finally, worth noting is the decision by L Brands, parent of Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, to exit the swimwear and apparel categories.
Segment Index rises to 107 as 11 stocks gain and four decline during the period. Under Armour has a new partnership with EOS, a supplier of industrial 3D printing services, to accelerate its efforts in 3D-printed footwear. Meanwhile, company sees CNBC’s Jim Cramer opine that a company turnaround will begin in a couple of quarters due to a refocused CEO Kevin Plank. But Cramer laments about high personnel turnover at UA. Also, brand has launched a Lindsay Vonn signature skiwear line. Nike is close to increasing its ties to home state university Oregon with a new, 11-year cash and gear deal valued at $88 million. Also, company sees its share rating lowered to hold by HSBC, citing lower U.S. growth. Skechers gets its target price raise by Wedbush, which as an outperform on the stock. Fitbit tied with Chinese gadget maker Xiaomi with 3.6 million wearables shipped in third quarter, but Apple’s growth rate was 52 percent in period.





Retail Name (Ticker Symbol)
Close on 11/24/17
Close on 11/30/17
% 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 11/24/17
Close on 11/30/17
% 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

Family-owned Silicon Valley firm Plug and Play, which dubs itself the “Ultimate Startup Ecosystem,” has raised over $6 billion in venture funding during its 11 years while bringing corporations, venture capitalists and start-ups together.

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

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.

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

PHIT America’s Jim Baugh dishes on the inactivity pandemic.

Sue Dooley and John Daher

Rockport Group senior executives talk about the brand’s fresh start under new ownership that has a major emphasis on versatility.

Josh Shaw

Mission Athletecare CEO Josh Shaw says thermoregulation is the New York company’s singular focus.

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.