Jean-Luc Diard, who resigned as president of Salomon last November after spending his whole career with the French company, has agreed to become senior vice president of Tecnica Group, with the task of running its new “Strategic Project Outdoor.” The 50-year-old French executive, who has begun to learn the Italian language, is going to take on his new assignment on Sept. 1. He will also sit on the strategic board of the large Italian group, led by Giancarlo Zanatta, which has made numerous acquisitions in the past few years.
There is some speculation that Diard may be asked to lead the Rossignol Group, if Tecnica wins a bid for its takeover from Quiksilver, but there are many other candidates and Tecnica may be more interested in developing its summer business. An announcement from Tecnica says that Diard’s first objective will be to help develop the full potential in the outdoor sector of two brands within the Italian group, Tecnica and Dolomite, which have been lagging behind Lowa, the German-based brand that is also part of the group.
While Tecnica and Dolomite have a stronger presence in the difficult snow sports market, Lowa has achieved a clear leadership position in the European market for outdoor boots. Overall, the Tecnica Group claims the leadership in outdoor footwear in Europe with more than 2.5 million pairs sold in 2007, with 1.8 million of them under the Lowa brand. The outdoor business represents only about 35 percent of the Tecnica Group’s sales, which declined last year by more than 10 percent to €380 million, in spite of its recent acquisition of Blizzard, because of its stronger emphasis on snow sports. The group also owns a summer brand, Rollerblade, whose sales went up, and a former brand of outdoor apparel, Think Pink, which is being developed now mainly in the lifestyle segment of the market.
Diard is expected to lead a major repositioning of the Tecnica and Dolomite brands, building a strong identity for them through unique product offers. The process is expected to follow largely the repositioning effort that has already been carried out for Tecnica, Dolomite and Nordica, which also belongs to the group, in the ski boot sector, where the group is also a leader. In general, Nordica is meant to appeal mainly to ski fans who want to belong to the ski community, identifying with the champions. Tecnica stands more for individual performance, and Dolomite is associated with ski touring and other relaxed experiences in an enjoyable natural mountain environment.
As for Lowa, which continues to be run by Werner Riethmann, the challenge is to raise the brand’s presence outside Germany, as shown by the chart on Page 2. As indicated in an article published in SGI Europe last June 11, the brand managed last year to raise its sales in other countries from 55 to 58 percent, but total sales under the brand declined by €4 million to €91 million.
As for Salomon, the brand seems to be doing relatively well in the outdoor sector and even in the ski sector, except for the cross-country business, under the ownership of Amer Sports. We are going to report on some important management changes within the group in the next issue of SGI Europe. Among other things, Michael White, who has been running Amer’s business in the U.K., is being appointed as general manager of Amer Sports Europe, based in Munich, starting next September. He will take the place of François Fauroux, who is going to move to Salomon’s head office in Annecy to act as commercial director of its global hardgoods business (more in Sporting Goods Intelligence Europe).