A new company, Frilufts Retail Europe (Frilufts AB), is taking over all the retail operations of Globetrotter Ausrüstung, Germany's largest outdoor retailer, along with the two major outdoor retail chains in Sweden and Finland, Naturkompaniet and Partioaitta. Together, they will have an annual turnover of around €260 million before VAT, second only to A.S. Adventure, the Belgian-based retail group that also owns Bever in the Netherlands and Cotswold Outdoor in the U.K.
Fenix Outdoor International, the recently established Swiss holding company of the Swedish-based Fenix Outdoor group, will own 60 percent of the shares in Frilufts AB, after contributing €7 million in new capital to Globetrotter and becoming its full owner. The managing partners in Globetrotter - Thomas Lipke and Andreas Bartmann - will own the balance of the shares.
Founded in 1979 by two survival experts, Globetrotter operates ten large stores in Germany, for a total retail space of about 35,000 square meters, as well as an internet store. Six of the physical stores have more than 4,000 square meters, including one that was recently opened in Stuttgart. Globetrotter bought a small chain of specialty shops in the Stuttgart area earlier this year. The company also brings to the table its 25 percent stake in Transa, the largest outdoor specialty retailer in Switzerland, which operates eight physical stores and a web shop.
Partioaitta and Naturkompaniet were founded by the Boy Scout movement much earlier, in 1928 and 1931, respectively. They have since become the largest outdoor retail chains in their respective countries. Naturkompaniet, which was originally called Scoutvaror, has 31 stores, five of which are run by franchisees. Partioaitta has 15 stores all over Finland.
The former Fenix Outdoor already owned Naturkompaniet, and three years ago it took over Partioaitta. At the beginning of this year, Fenix Outdoor began to form an alliance with Globetrotter by acquiring a stake of 20 percent in the company, which has been struggling recently due to the competition in the German market, especially in the online retail sector. Globetrotter booked a small operating loss in the financial year ended last Feb. 28 and its sales dropped by 3.9 percent to €206 million before VAT.
The new international outdoor retail group will be run by Ulf Gustafsson, a former chief executive of Fenix and a member of its board of directors with extensive experience in the outdoor industry, who will act as chairman and chief executive. He has also been managing director of Tretorn, the Swedish brand owned by Puma. Lipke, chief executive of Globetrotter and one of its two managing partners, will act as chief operating officer of Frilufts AB. The future position of his associate, Bartmann, could not be learnt.
Aside from its retail operations, Fenix also owns important outdoor brands such as Fjällräven and Hanwag. Following its recent registration in Switzerland, Fenix is reporting its results in euros rather than Swedish kronor. It recently published financial results that showed a small operating loss for its retail division on nearly stable sales of €45.8 million for the first nine months of this year. Its own brands grew by 18.6 percent to €135.9 million. Net income for the nine months landed at €26.2 million, up from €20.1 million for the same period last year.