The Mammut Sports Group is preparing increased investment in its international organization and marketing, as part of a five-year strategic plan backed by Conzzeta, the Swiss company that controls the outdoor brand.
While providing few specifics at a presentation in Friedrichshafen, Mammut managers said that they were budgeting over-proportional expansion in international markets. The company's five focus markets outside of the German-speaking countries are Japan, South Korea, China, the U.S. and the U.K.
The two other major legs of the strategic program are investments in digital activities and the expansion of the brand's product range, to more efficiently target urban outdoor activities. However, Mammut managers emphasized that they would not be moving away from the brand's alpine focus.
While many other brands have come up with somewhat athletic and sometimes even tight-fitting outdoor apparel ranges this year, Mammut's take on this trend focuses on climbing, with what it describes as a fitness-inspired climbing range. With their urban touch, the products are targeting the growing numbers who train at climbing halls – the fastest-growing discipline in climbing, the group said, and less weather-dependent than other climbing activities. Mammut has even come up with an “office to gym” backpack, for people who head straight from one to the other and want to keep their computer away from damp clothes.
Mammut has worked out that, in Munich alone, about 3,000 people go to climbing gyms on any given evening. Germany has seen the opening of more than one climbing gym per month in the last two years. The indoor climbers are relatively young, with the largest group among these consumers aged about 30 to 35. Mammut added that some retailers have started to make space for urban climbing products.
As previously reported, the five-year strategic plan will be implemented under the leadership of Oliver Pabst, the former Bogner executive who is to take over as chief executive of Mammut in September. Although none of the plans described in Friedrichshafen deviated markedly from Mammut's previous approach, it appears that Conzzeta is prepared to accept temporary pressure on margins in order to finance more investments.
Apart from Pabst, Mammut has invested in other managerial functions. Among the latest appointments is Ibrahim Can, who is switching to Mammut in September to take charge of global sales and market development, reporting to Mammut's chief sales officer, Stefan Merkt. Can is currently head of sales for central and eastern Europe at Icebreaker.
The pending departure of Rolf Schmid, who has earned much respect at the company and in the wider outdoor business as Mammut chief executive for two decades, cast a shadow over the presentation. As Schmid pointed out, Mammut's sales were multiplied tenfold under his leadership – with only a small dip in 2011, after the sale of the Toko ski wax business, and strong pressure last year with unfavorable changes in exchange rates for the Swiss franc. However, he and other executives said that the leadership change would provide fresh impetus for the brand, to go “lighter and faster.”
Schmid is staying as chief executive until the end of August and then another two to three years as a consultant. He is already on the board of several companies and has been approached by others who are eager to tap into his strategic strengths.