Schwan-Stabilo Outdoor (SSO), the division of the Schwan-Stabilo group that contains the Deuter and Ortovox brands, managed to lift its sales by 13.5 percent to €97.4 million in its 2013-14 financial year, ended June 30, compared with the previous year. The company did not disclose the split between the backpack and the snow safety gear and outdoor apparel brands.
Martin Riebel, managing director of SSO, indicated, however, that the increase booked by Deuter was rather “organic,” while the growth of Ortovox was “over-proportional.” With regard to Ortovox, Riebel explained that most of the increase came from the successful development of apparel, while sales of safety equipment developed in a steady way.
The growth of Ortovox came partly from increased sales outside its two core markets, Germany and Austria, notably in Switzerland and northern Italy as well as in France. The dominating role of Central Europe in Ortovox' business is set to be reduced over the next 2-3 years with intensified efforts in international markets, especially in the U.S.
Unlike Europe, where Ortovox relies basically on its own sales organizations, the business in America is run by Deuter's U.S. subsidiary. Riebel pointed out, however, that Ortovox is about to build up its own team for North America under the helm of Deuter USA.
Deuter itself is by far more international and currently covers 53 markets globally. The sales ratio between Germany and international markets is more or less 50-50 as it has been in the previous years. The brand has identified ten key markets for future growth: Russia, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, the U.S., China, South Korea and Japan.
The German brand of backpacks and sleeping bags managed to grow in Germany, too, though the rate was not disclosed. The company said that it increased domestic sales mainly to existing customers, but their numbers dropped in the course of last year. As reported, Deuter has applied a stricter selective distribution policy, which led to the end of relations with some customers who refused to sign updated general terms. These called for improved quality in respect to assortment, presentation and service by both online and offline retailers.
According to Riebel, some 3,000 customers agreed to sign the new general terms, but the supplier ran into legal trouble with one retailer who refused to sign and took the vendor to court after Deuter decided to halt deliveries. As we reported, Deuter appealed against the verdict, issued by a Frankfurt court this summer, but the matter has not been decided yet.
As a result of its new distribution policy, Deuter lost some customers in Germany, notably in the bike sector where a couple of internet retailers dropped out of Deuter's list of customers. In effect, the company's sales growth was smaller with bicycle shops than it was with outdoor, sporting and leather goods retailers.
Outdoor is the smallest division of Schwan-Stabilo, but it was again the fastest-growing one in the last financial year. The overall turnover of the group improved by 4.8 percent to €559.2 million. Its largest unit, cosmetics, increased its sales by 4.0 percent to €297.3 million, while writing instruments, for which the name Schwan-Stabilo is best known for, grew by 1.5 percent to €164.3 million. The group's equity ratio slipped by 0.5 percentage points to 48.7 percent over the 2012-13 financial year.