Outdoor and Cycle Concepts was formed in the U.K. at the start of November as a joint corporate entity grouping the operations of four retailers: Cotswold Outdoor, Snow & Rock, Cycle Surgery and Runners Need. The four banners were brought together earlier this year after the AS Adventure Group, the parent company of Cotswold Outdoor, bought Snow & Rock and the two other retailers, making it the leading outdoor retail group in the U.K. with a turnover of £210 million (€286.1m-$312.6m).
The AS Adventure group subsequently reported a change in U.K. leadership. The new chief executive of Outdoor and Cycle Concepts is to supervise Cotswold Outdoor and the Snow & Rock group, without separate chief executives for either of them.
The joint entity in the U.K. will enable AS Adventure to integrate the back-office functions of the four British retail chains, including IT, finance and the use of the same stock management systems. Cotswold and Snow & Rock will continue to have their separate offices and warehouses, in Kendal for Cotswold and in Guildford for Snow & Rock, although that arrangement is likely to be adjusted at a later stage.
The concept of Snow & Rock stores remains broadly unchanged this year. The AS Adventure group acknowledges that some of them are tired and it has made investments in staff training and visual merchandising, focusing on the larger stores. Snow & Rock also went ahead with a previously planned store opening in London's Canary Wharf in November.
The group intends to rebuild at least some of the stores more substantially, once it has worked out an adjusted concept for Snow & Rock in the next two years. However, the adjustments should focus on layout and visual merchandising, rather than the assortment. Most of the stores are profitable, and particularly the larger stores.
At the same time, Cotswold is working on various options to have several concepts in the same store, as is already the case in Snow & Rock stores. While it will refrain from combining all four of the concepts, it may open Cycle Surgery and Runners Need corners in Cotswold stores. The first example of the mixed concept is on Piccadilly Circus in London, with a Cotswold store containing a Runners Need corner.
Cotswold Outdoor has 72 stores after five new openings this year, the latest one near Newcastle earlier this month. The outdoor retail chain also enjoyed higher sales on a comparable store basis.
Snow & Rock runs 24 stores, including two mono-brand stores for Arc'teryx and The North Face, while Cycle Surgery and Runners Need have more than 30 stores each, and not all of them are stand-alone stores.
The investment in Snow & Rock came after the AS Adventure Group's takeover by PAI Partners earlier this year. With Cotswold and Snow & Rock in the U.K. and Ireland, along with AS Adventure in Belgium, Luxembourg and France, and Bever in the Netherlands, the AS Adventure group is Europe's leading outdoor retailer, with a joint turnover of about €550 million.