Arkose, a French operator of indoor bouldering parks, has snapped up a 67 percent stake in Snap Climbing, a French brand of climbing equipment and apparel, in an apparent bid to explore synergies between bouldering facilities and the gear required to use them.
Arkose already has seven indoor bouldering parks, consisting of bouldering blocks and eco-friendly catering facilities, in convivial urban settings. It announced that it plans to open another seven in the next year, which would double the network of fully-owned locations. Two of the new facilities will be around Paris and the others in Tours, Annemasse, Marseille, Toulouse and Rouen.
The transaction between Arkose and Snap was finalized at an undisclosed price last month. The brand was established in Chamonix in 1996 by Patrick Delozanne and later moved to Saint-Jorioz, near Annecy. Delozanne remains Snap Climbing's general manager and minority shareholder, but the partnership with Arkose should enable the small company to invest more in branding and in exports, which are currently focused on the U.K. and Japan.
Under fresh ownership, Snap intends to concentrate on three areas of development: a full range of climbing gear, which currently centers round crashpads and bags, but will be extended with harnesses and tools; a range of accessories and equipment intended for indoor halls; and a range of climbing apparel targeting urban use, that will make use of recycled or organic fabric.
This fits neatly with the target group of Arkose's bouldering halls. They are designed to draw young and urban residents who climb as a form of active leisure, or as an efficient yet fun workout, and who appreciate the proximity and accessibility of the facilities. The company tends to open its parks in former industrial sites or under-used emblematic spots. It already employs 150 people and should reach a turnover of €8 million this year.
Arkose has been in talks with Snap Climbing for some time because the company is the French distributor for Mad Rock, which helps to complement its offering with footwear. The buyer said that it aims to develop a range of services and products around its indoor bouldering locations. It may purchase or develop more products aligned with the concept, as it has already done with the development of its own beer brand.
Arkose says it will continue to spread the concept in France and in other European markets. Bouldering halls are relatively under-developed in most of southern Europe and some of the facilities in northern Europe are getting a little outdated, which creates plenty of scope for the French operator to expand.