High Sierra Sport, a U.S. company specializing in backpacks and other types of soft-sided bags and luggage, plans to open its European office in the Munich area at the end of this year or early in 2009. It has already identified a candidate for the position of European director who has more than 20 years of experience in the European outdoor industry, though it has not publicly named him yet. He will report to Jorge Garces, who was appointed last month to the new position of vice president for international sales, based at the company headquarters in Vernon Hills, Illinois.

The company already has distributors in various Latin American and Asian countries, but it has been banned from the European market for the last 24 years because the name High Sierra was already registered and used there by Intersport International Corporation. The U.S. company acquired the rights to the brand in the territory from IIC last April.

In his new position at High Sierra, Garces will be responsible for implementing sales and marketing strategies for European, Latin American, Asian and Pacific markets. He will provide market analysis and planning in foreign markets and handle business development, pricing strategies, international finance and logistics outside the USA.

He comes with more than 20 years of experience in international sales and marketing. He was most recently responsible for JanSport’s sales and marketing activities in Latin America. He previously worked for Marketing Associates, Johnson Outdoors, Lennox Industries and Coleman.

Hank Bernbaum, president of High Sierra, says the company will plan its entry into the European market carefully, without any rush, using a combination of distributors and agents in different countries. He would not disclose the turnover of his company, which was founded by his family in 1979 as H. Bernbaum Import & Export Company. It employs 40 people. It sells its products to more than 1,500 retailers and 2,250 corporate accounts worldwide. It is the official supplier of bags and luggage to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team.