To help strengthen Décathlon’s already strong hold on the outdoor market through its private label Quechua, the parent company of the largest integrated European sporting goods retailer, recently renamed the Oxylane group, has taken over Simond, a French specialist in mountaineering equipment. The move is described by Décathlon officials as a business opportunity and a means to gain insights into the development of technical climbing gear, rather than the start of a new acquisition strategy.
Simond has been owned since 2003 by Acasting, an investment fund that had previously snapped up Wichard, a larger French industrial group. Acasting’s acquisition of Simond was to be followed by several others in the same business, but the project was put on hold as Simond’s financial performance proved disappointing. Over the last few years it has had stable sales of about €2.5 million, either breaking even or recording small losses. It thus needed to secure a strong partner.
Oxylane has pledged to retain the Simond brand, since its products barely overlap with those of Quechua. Décathlon already was a large customer of Simond’s, making up about 20 percent of the climbing equipment brand’s sales. Simond will continue to service its other customers and should benefit substantially from its closer ties with Décathlon.
To begin with, the deal will secure Simond’s largest account and widen its international potential. For the time being, international sales make up about 35 percent of Simond’s turnover. Furthermore, the two companies could benefit from synergies in terms of research. For example, Simond could make use of Oxylane’s expertise in the development of metal parts for bicycles. On the other hand, Quechua’s head office is located in Sallanches, a few bends away from Les Houches.
Simond dates back to 1860 and is based in Les Houches, in the Mont Blanc valley. Employing 20 people, it specializes in ice climbing, mountaineering and canyoning, making such products as ice axes, carabiners and crampons. All metal-based products are produced in Les Houches, with only a few accessories and textile parts made elsewhere. Ludger Simond, a fifth-generation heir of the founding family, sold to Acasting in 2003 and the company’s management was then entrusted to Dominique Marchal, a mountain guide.