Five Ten, the specialist climbing and cycling footwear brand, is turning a page after its founder, Charles Cole, left the company in July, about three years after selling it to the Adidas Group. Since then he had been acting as president. The U.S. company is now led by Wally Barker, who was the chief financial officer and became managing director as well a year ago. Barker has reorganized Five Tens' marketing efforts by product category instead of by brand and sports marketing.
The company has also been going through some changes in its European management. Ulf Michels, who previously worked in media and communication, became the brand's European marketing manager in May after the departure of Christoph Bösl, who joined Suntour Cycling Europe to take care of marketing and aftermarket sales. And Five Ten is searching for a European sales manager since Jérémie Blondel, a former Reebok manager, left the company in July to join VF Corp.
At the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Salt Lake City last month, Five Ten's managing director said that the company wanted to take more advantage of the infrastructure offered by the Adidas Group and become a voracious competitor. He said it has continued to expand by more than 20 percent per year since the takeover – more slowly than in previous years but on a more sustainable basis and with a stronger focus on margins. Five Ten predicts that the coming years will bring more expansion, as the integration and investments of the last years pay off.
Before the acquisition by Adidas the American company made about equal revenues in North America and the rest of the world. Since then, Barker said the foreign share had widened to about 65 percent.
Five Ten has seen its U.S. market share decline due to its focus on the higher end of the market and the rise of other brands. It has started hitting back at the lower end of the market, which has been growing faster. With climbing shoes meant to retail at about $100, its orders in this category have increased by more than 50 percent so far this year.