Buoyant sales of outdoor products enabled Hi-Tec to lift its directly invoiced sales by 4.2 percent last year, while its sales through distributors jumped by 7.4 percent. However, the outdoor, sports and golf company moved to cut back its licensed business, particularly in Asia, which reduced the wholesale equivalent sales of its licensees by about 30 percent. Hi-Tec's wholesale equivalent sales therefore dropped by 4.5 percent to $239 million for the year.
On this same basis, sales of Hi-Tec's outdoor products expanded by 12.5 percent last year, to make up about 80 percent of the brand's turnover. Sales of Magnum, the company's uniform and workwear brand, remained stable in spite of significant cutbacks in government spending. The Hi-Tec brand's own retail business more than doubled during the year.
The increase in directly invoiced sales was driven by France, Spain, Portugal and Italy, where Hi-Tec enjoyed double-digit sales expansion, for both the Hi-Tec and Magnum brands. The group's turnover in the Netherlands even doubled, after the group decided to have separate partners for its Hi-Tec and Magnum brands.
On the other hand, Hi-Tec's turnover was stable in the German-speaking countries and Scandinavia. Still, the company was satisfied that its product mix improved in Germany, with more sales of functional products and a more high-profile reputation in the country. The brand's new distributor in Finland, Berner Sport, has made a strong start, and Hi-Tec is hoping to bounce back in Sweden and Denmark, where it will appoint new distributors shortly.
As for the company's U.K. turnover, it was down slightly last year as retail consumption remained sluggish and government spending cuts hurt Magnum sales. Then again, Hi-Tec Outdoor continued to thrive in the U.K., with double-digit sales growth for the year.
Meanwhile, the Van Wezel family, which founded and owns Hi-Tec, continued to invest in the company. As reported earlier, it moved its head office from Southend-on-Sea to Amsterdam, and switched to larger American and South African offices. Along with new staff in product teams, these investments contributed to an increase of over 8 percent in Hi-Tec's operating expenses. Owing to an increase of 0.9 percentage points for its gross margin, the company still managed to report stable earnings last year.