2018 was a good year for Ecco's line of outdoor shoes, with its items attracting strong attention from the sector. It won four prestigious awards. The Exostrike shoe with Dyneema bonded leather received the 2018 Ispo prize in the outdoor category for hiking and trekking shoes. Ecco also won in the footwear category at the Scandinavian Outdoor Awards, and it received a RedDot Award and an award at the OutDoor fair in Friedrichshafen.
The Exostrike shoe, which has a distinctive and fashionable shape and many interesting features, is meant for outdoor activities as well as everyday use. It hit the market in April 2018 with a pre-launch at selected retailers such as Globetrotter in Germany, with a retail price of €220. Made in Portugal, it was set to reach a volume of about 100,000 pairs in the first season.
After adding a Gore-Tex membrane as an option, Ecco has created an interesting version of the Exostrike for this year that is fitted with Michelin rubber outsoles.
Looking at 2019, the company's management said in its annual report that Ecco Outdoor will have a holistic, brand-strengthening focus on design, product management, marketing and sales. It will support the market introduction of the Ecco Omni-vent product line, featuring the Gore-Tex Surround membrane. It is intended to enable consumers to hit any kind of trail under any conditions, while staying dry and comfortable. In addition, the Ecco Biom footwear line will be given a more athletic appearance and performance to tap into new international consumption trends.
While Ecco's core business is casual and comfort footwear, the sports and outdoor category has grown to represent about 20 percent of the company's turnover.
The big Danish shoe company reported record sales and profits for 2018, despite a challenging retail environment and currency headwinds. Revenues improved by 2.6 percent to €1,310 million, while pre-tax earnings increased by 9.2 percent from the previous year to €200.7 million. In constant currencies, pre-tax earnings soared by 11.7 percent.
Sales of footwear rose by 5 percent at constant exchange rates, while accessories and leather grew by 5.8 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively.
The company did not release any exact figures for its gross margin. The operating margin rose by 0.9 percentage points to 15.8 percent. Ecco ended the year with a strong cash position and a solvency ratio of 58.7 percent.
Ecco's continued investments in direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales channels resulted in growth of 14 percent through its physical and internet stores, with e-commerce soaring by 36 percent in constant currencies. In the wholesale segment, sales grew by 1.7 percent in constant currencies.
In terms of geographic areas, Europe, the Middle East and Africa accounted for 41 percent of sales, Asia-Pacific for 36 percent, and the Americas for 23 percent.
More in Shoe Intelligence, our business newsletter on the non-athletic footwear sector.