The German media have already reported about Asolo's takeover of the distribution of its products in Germany. It took effect last April after the Italian footwear company found an experienced manager, Herbert Buczek, to run the new operation out of the MOC permanent showroom center in Munich.
Buckzek, 48, has some 30 years of experience in the outdoor sector, the last ten with Hanwag. He previously worked for Salewa, Lowe Alpine and The North Face. The decision to go direct in Europe's largest outdoor market was taken last October.
Asolo had been trading in Germany as well as in the U.K. for several years through the local subsidiary of Lowe Alpine, but decided to stop after divesting the British backpack company to Rab five years ago. It took a long pause in the German market, followed by exclusive contracts with Globetrotter and, more recently, Sport Schuster.
After its break-up with Lowe Alpine, Asolo began to cover the U.K. market in 2013 through a big distributor, AMG Group, which also owns Vango. It notified AMG last December that it intended to go direct in the U.K., the second-largest market in Europe. The contract ended on June 30. Based in Kendal, in the English Lake District, Asolo's business in the country is now led directly by Luca Zanatta, the chief executive of the company, who supervises a network of agents. He is aided by David Udberg, who will mainly take care of key accounts on a consultancy basis.
Udberg, a former manager of Lowe Alpine who chaired the European Outdoor Group (EOG) for many years, has been connected with Asolo for many years. Formally retired, he has taken on other consultancies in the past few years, but has been gradually reducing his working time.
The takeover of the distribution in the U.K. is seen as a logical step for many reasons. For one, an estimated 60 percent of the British outdoor market is controlled by big specialty retail chains, which tend to be particularly sensitive about their profit margins, especially for relatively expensive items like those produced by Asolo at its Romanian factory. This sensitivity has been obviously augmented by the recent, steep depreciation of the pound sterling following the Brexit vote.
By eliminating an intermediary and offering the full range of its products, Asolo is now able to be more flexible in negotiating purchasing conditions with U.K. buyers. It will be able to offer a similar level of service as AMG through a local logistics provider who worked with Asolo before its tie-up with Lowe Alpine. The reasoning has proved right: At the end of the OutDoor show in Friedrichshafen, the results in terms of orders for the spring/summer 2017 season were more than twice as high as originally projected.
Asolo already has a sales subsidiary in the U.S., which contributes greatly to its overall turnover. The company continues to cover the French market with a long-time agent, Ricochet, and the Spanish market through a distributor, Carving Sport. For the Nordic countries, Asolo has a deal with the Fenix Outdoor group.