Another Canadian brand of waterproof boots based in the same area of Ontario, Kodiak, is investing on the European market by setting up an office in Switzerland, run by a former European footwear product manager of Columbia, Jean Marc Groell, who took on its distribution for the Swiss and French markets one year ago.
Like Sorel, Kodiak will be distributed in all the retail channels, including outdoor and footwear specialty stores. It is already offered by Spartoo, the French online shoe retailer, in addition to major outdoor specialists such as Bachli in Switzerland. Groell has already hired 12 sales agents to market the brand in Germany, France and Austria. He also has a network of 10 agents in the U.K. and others in the Benelux countries.
The Kodiak brand generates annual deliveries of between 300,000 and 400,000 pairs, partly made in Canada and partly in China. It has strong position in the domestic outdoor market, where it boasts an 18 percent market share. It works with Canadian licensees for backpacks, socks, gloves and apparel.
Like Sorel, the brand was launched in the mid-1960s as a waterproof boot for tough weather conditions. It is the creature of a Canadian firm, Greb Manufacturing Company, founded by German immigrants back in 1910. The company started off as a producer of work boots, but then developed ranges of outdoor and winter boots.
It went through a management buyout in the mid-1980s, and in 2005 it bought Terra, a brand of safety shoes, and opened a U.S. sales office for Kodiak. Terra is already well known in Denmark and some other European countries. The brand uses a third-party warehouse in the Netherlands to service the European market, with a dedicated customer service office, and the facility is now being used for the Kodiak brand.
The Canadian group sells a total of about 1.3 million pairs per year, of which some 300,000 are still made at its factory in Kitchener, Ontario. Dickies, a large American apparel company, bought the Canadian group four years ago, and it is using it now to manage its footwear operations.