After three tough years, the Bogdanov brothers have managed to build up their new version of the Bask brand, after their former Bask company was taken over by former investment partners in 2009. The new Bask has decided to focus on the wholesale part of the Russian outdoor market, where it already reached sales equivalent to about $7 million last year and is on track to expand by another 25 percent this year.

Vladimir and Sergey Bogdanov are the brothers who established Bask in 1992 and turned it into a leading Russian outdoor brand, focusing on apparel for extreme weather conditions. They said that the company's sales reached about $15 million in 2007, with about $10 million coming from wholesale and the remainder from retail sales in eight stores trading in Moscow as Activny Otdyh, meaning Active Leisure.

However, the Russian outdoor market crashed by an estimated 30 percent with the economic downturn in 2008, and Bask saw its sales plummet by 15 percent. The next year, the Bogdanovs were aghast to lose control of their company: It was entirely taken over by Eagle Ventures, an investment fund which had acquired a stake in Bask in 2007. Eagle Ventures was funded by a Belgian investment group, Gimv, as well as Russian interests.

As reported at the time, Vladimir Bogdanov, a former space physicist, and his brother Sergey, a laser scientist, then resolved to start afresh. In 2009, the Bogdanovs and their key staff left for what they regard as their old company, NPF Bask. They are selling much the same garments as before, with the same brand name but a different, triangular and orange logo.

NPF Bask also inherited one of the Activny Otdyh stores but rapidly sold that again to Tourin, a specialist outdoor retailer in Russia. Tourin has seven stores trading under its own banner but it kept Activny Otdyh as such and later opened three more stores under that name, all in Moscow and prominently selling new Bask products. 

Meanwhile, the Bogdanovs decided to focus on wholesale sales to specialist chains like Tourin and Alpindustria as well as smaller independents across Russia. Apart from its technical garments, the new Bask has just come up with a more urban range along with full hunting and fishing ranges. Before the split, Bask was sold in a dozen foreign markets but the new Bask is exported only to the U.K. and Canada, as the Bogdanovs started by rebuilding their business in Russia.

Meanwhile, the former Bask brand is operated by a company called CJSC Bask. Seven of the Activny Otdyh stores remained with the investors, but six of them have since closed down. It continues to use the Bask brand name with the round blue logo. They apparently hold the rights to the Bask brand name in the Roman alphabet, while the Bogdanovs own the Russian spelling of Bask, as well as Bask Company in Roman letters. CJSC Bask declined to provide an update on its own plans.

Vladimir Bogdanov estimates that the two Bask brands together have nearly returned to their sales level before the 2008 downturn. Other sources indicate that the former Bask has mostly been selling off old stock and failed to take advantage of the brand's former international network.

Many more details on the development of Bask and the Russian outdoor business will be contained in our extensive market research report to be published in October. Should you wish to contribute, please write to news@edmpublications.com.