Many outdoor, bike and ski dealers around the world have been also offering Thule's car racks to enable their customers to carry their products to distant places. Many have lately added other products developed by the Swedish group, which has a reputation for quality and durability.
Schöffel and Lowa, which have many, mostly franchised, dual-branded stores in Germany, have decided to add Thule backpacks and travel bags to the clothing and footwear offered in their stores.
The Thule Group reported a few weeks ago a sales climb of 15.0 percent to 1,157 million Swedish kronor (€109.8m-$124.6m) for the fourth quarter of 2018, with an increase of 8.0 percent in local currencies. However, the operating margin declined by one percentage point to 5.5 percent due to the anticipated under-utilization of production capacities during the ramp-up phase for new products. Adjusted for exchange rate fluctuation, the operating profit fell by 1.9 percent.
Region America delivered a slight sales increase of 0.2 percent in local currencies during the latest quarter, but it recorded a decline of 3.3 percent for the year. Sales remained strong in the past year in Europe and the rest of the world outside the U.S., rising by 10.3 percent on a constant-currency basis. The largest category, Sports & Cargo Carriers, grew by 9 percent, Active with Kids by 24 percent and RV Products by 14 percent. Packs, Bags & Luggage declined by 3 percent, despite growth in suitcases, backpacks and sports bags.
For the full financial year, Thule's sales were up by 10.4 percent to SEK 6,484 million (€617.3m-$702.2m), with a currency-neutral increase of 6.0 percent. The operating margin was off by 0.2 percentage points to 18.0 percent. Net earnings grew strongly to SEK 837 million (€79.7m-90.7m) from SEK 690 million in 2017.
The product pipeline calls for the launch this year of new hydration backpacks for mountain biking, among other new items.