Partially due to good weather conditions in some key markets, Lowa was all the way up in 2010. Both the company, Lowa Sportschuhe, and the brand alone managed to have a record year. Total sales increased from €107 million in 2009 to €132 million. The figures include those of the company's subsidiaries in Switzerland and the U.S.
The turnover of the Lowa brand alone jumped from €92 million to €113 million. The difference between brand and company sales comes from the distribution of other brands. Lowa, which is controlled by Italy's Tecnica Group, distributes its Blizzard, Rollerblade, Think Pink and Moonboot brands as well as X-Bionic in Germany.
The Swiss subsidiary expanded its portfolio extensively in 2010. It added the distribution ofTecnica (outdoor and ski boots), Moonboot and Blizzard as well as ther Austrian Gloryfy line of eyewear. Thanks to the new brands, the Swiss subsidiary's sales went up by 4.6 million Swiss francs (€3.8m-5.5m) last year to CHF42.3 million (€34.7m-$50.2m).
These new deals followed the acquisition in 2008 of Lowa's former Swiss distributor. The number of Lowa shoes sold in the country remained stable at a stunningly high level of 278,000 pairs. Basically stable sales have also been reported for its distribution of Leki poles (120,000 pairs) and X-Socks (220,000 pairs).
Sales of Lowa shoes remained stable at 170,000 pairs also in Austria, but its distributor in that country enjoyed a strong sales increase of 10 percent due to the extension of its distribution portfolio. The increase came mostly from a new deal with Gloryfy eyewear and a new package called Lowa+Sox which is a cooperation between Lowa and X-Socks.
Like for Tecnica, much of Lowa's sales increases came ifrom excellent weather conditions at the beginning and the end of 2010, which boosted sales of snow-related products. However, Lowa gained ground also in its core outdoor shoe business in Germany and other markets.
For the first time ever, Lowa made and sold more than 2 million pairs of shoes. Unit sales went up from 1.8 million pairs in 2009 to 2.02 million pairs last year. For the current year, the company has no reason to be pessimistic: In March, the order books were filled with 1.83 million pairs compared with 1.33 million a year earlier.
However, as Werner Riethmann, managing partner of Lowa Sportschuhe, pointed out, sales were rather slow in the first quarter of this year because the winter basically ended in January. The good pre-orders from retailers mean on the other hand that Lowa has to invest in human resources: For every additional 200,000 pairs crafted in the company’s facilities, Lowa needs 100 more people to assemble the shoes.
Germany continues to be by far the most important market for the company with a contribution of 47 percent to the total sales followed by Switzerland (13 percent), the Benelux countries (9 percent), Austria (8 percent), the U.S. (6 percent) and France (5 percent). It is Riethmann’s intention to increase the share of the foreign business from 53 percent last year to 60 percent within the next two years.
No precise information was given on profitability, but 2010 was apparently one of the best years in the history of the company. For the current year, Lowa expects another increase in sales in the higher single digits in spite of the fact that it pulled out of the ski boot business recently. Regarding profits, Riethmann feels that Lowa cannot repeat last year's success, as he has doubts about the general economic situation in Europe and elsewhere. The executive predicts that prices of raw materials are going to grow further due to higher demand in China as well as speculative trading for leather and other raw materials in the commodities market against the background of the earthquake tragedy in Japan, the political revolution in some Arab countries and the euro disaster in various European countries.