Altra, an American brand of running footwear with a shaped toe box and a flat cushioned sole, has made rapid headway in Europe by sealing another batch of distribution agreements in the last months. The expansion has been led by Frank Warnars, previously in charge of European sales at Saucony, and Altra's European brand manager since last year.
Among the latest partnerships, Manifold Switzerland is on board for that country, where it previously carried Avia and currently sells Orbea bicycles and Tri-Wetsuits. Altra Footwear Czech in the Czech Republic is an entity managed by Zdenek Moravic, the distributor of Orbea bikes and former Saucony partner. Denmark is covered by Niels-Kim Hjorth, a well-known runner and national team coach, who established Running First for the purpose of selling Altra.
Since they all joined the team late in the season, deliveries for this autumn will occur directly from Altra's Californian warehouse. The very latest partnership was sealed with AL Sport in Germany, which already distributes Nathan and CW-X apparel, and will start delivering Altra in January.
As previously reported, Altra was bought by Icon Health and Fitness in 2011. The brand has been distributed through the fitness company in some of the European countries where it has subsidiaries, mostly in France, Spain and Italy, while distributors started selling Altra in Britain, Ireland, Scandinavia and the Benelux countries earlier this year. The brand has been taken up by influential retailers such as Endurance Shop, a chain of 48 stores in France, Run2Day with 28 stores in the Netherlands, RS Lab in Belgium, the Lex Group in Germany, Runners' World in the U.K. and Löplabbet in Norway.
Separately, the brand is preparing to move into China early next year through Icon's subsidiary in Shanghai. The brand is already widely sold in Japan, which was its first international market, and a few other regional markets such as Singapore and the Philippines. South Africa is on Altra's map as well.
Established in Utah in 2009, Altra has already achieved sizeable distribution in the U.S. market, where it estimates that is sells to about 60 percent of the specialist running retailers.
Warnars is preparing to launch the Lornah brand of running apparel, named after Lornah Kiplagat, a Dutch runner of Kenyan origin. It will be introduced at the Amsterdam marathon in October, to be sold at retail early next year. Lornah is a range of technical apparel with African-inspired design.