Richard Krause has been appointed as chief executive and president of Confluence Outdoor, taking over from Sue Rechner at the helm of the U.S. paddle sports group. Krause was formerly the CEO of Feradyne Outdoors,
Remaining a shareholder, Rechner will support Krause in the transition. She said in a statement that it was time to move on after nearly ten years building up Confluence. The group specializes in kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddle boards and other water sports products under brands such as Wilderness Systems, Perception, Dagger, Mad River Canoe, Boardworks Surf and others.
Feradyne Outdoors is a U.S. company that sells a dozen brands, specializing in hunting and archery products. Confluence described it as a group with a turnover in the range of $70 million. Krause previously served as CEO of the New England Confectionery Company, the oldest multi-brand business of the kind in the U.S.. He held the same job for companies in the portfolio of Sun Capital Partners.
Confluence has been striving to spread its sales in Europe, which reached about 5 percent of its turnover three years ago. The group then appointed Alistair Thorburn in 2015 as managing director in charge of its international business, working from the U.K.. A former top executive of Wilson, Converse and Prince, he had previously served as international president of Pure Fishing since 2006.
Efforts to expand in Europe were hampered in the last two years by unfavorable exchange rates, as most of Confluence's products are made in the U.S. But after two relatively stable years, Confluence has seen a strong increase in European orders and is projecting a double-digit sales rise in the region for this year.
The growth comes after Confluence expanded a licensing partnership with Palm Equipment and Gaybo, two manufacturers in the U.K. As a result, the share of products sold in the European market and imported from the U.S. has been lowered from about 60 percent to 40 percent.
Thorburn said the European market probably wasn't growing but there appears to be more appetite for buying, as retailers are making up for their cautious approach last year. Confluence has also reinforced its European distribution with the appointment of Rocroi as its sales partner for the Spanish market from the start of this year.
Another factor that has been fueling growth is the rising demand for pedal-driven boats, which enable users to move the them with their feet while holding a fishing rod, for example.