Fenix Outdoor International, the company that owns three leading European outdoor retailers along with Fjällräven and several other outdoor brands, has agreed to take a stake of 75 percent in Alpen International, its distributor in South Korea.
Fenix says the takeover will be made through a share issue, which is meant to take place during the second quarter of this year. The transaction should not have a material impact on its results, but Fenix adds that it's important given the scope of the South Korean market – one of the largest despite its sizeable contraction in the last two years.
Alpen International is a company that operates as a retailer and a wholesaler, focusing on Fjällräven products. The South Korean group's website indicates that it was established in 2011 in Seoul with distribution of Fjällräven and quickly expanded into retailing. Other brands distributed by Alpen include Hanwag and Primus, also owned by Fenix Outdoor, along with Elvine, a Swedish brand of casual wear and Shoe the Bear from Denmark.
The move fits with the strategy Fenix has been pursuing in recent years, to take control of its distribution in more international markets. These transactions include the acquisition of Rosker, a British distribution company, in 2009. Fenix went on to purchase Bus Sport, the distribution company for Hanwag, Fjällräven and several other brands in Switzerland, as well as Fjällräven Arctic Fox, an American distribution company that also ran a Fjällräven store in New York.
Meanwhile, the Fenix Outdoor group itself has a new shareholder, Bestseller United, a Danish fashion group that already has stakes in Zalando and Asos, among others. Bestseller United is the holding company for Bestseller, the company behind several fashion brands. They include Jack & Jones, Vero Moda and Vila along with J. Lindeberg, the Swedish brand with golf and winter sports apparel ranges.
The acquisition had to be reported to the stock market authorities because Fenix Outdoor is formally established in Switzerland but its shares are listed on the Stockholm stock exchange. Finans, a Danish newspaper, reports that the stake of 5 percent in Fenix Outdoor refers to B shares and that they carry 1.92 percent of the voting rights. The stake reportedly makes Bestseller the third-largest shareholder in the Swedish-based outdoor group after the Nordin family, which founded Fenix Outdoor, and the Nordea investment fund.
Bestseller declined to comment on its intentions with its stake in Fenix, but its shareholdings in Zalando and Asos suggest that the purchase of Fenix shares may be a similar portfolio investment.