Many new executives have started working for Royal Robbins since the American brand of travel and adventure gear was taken over last March by Fenix Outdoor International, the Swedish group, formally based in Switzerland, that owns Fjällräven, Tierra and other outdoor brands as well as Globetrotter and other outdoor specialty retail chains.
One of the new managers is Erik Tjerneld, who has been the global brand manager for Tierra since 2012. Based at Fenix' Swedish office, he has been appointed general manager of Royal Robbins for Europe. He has taken over responsibility for the brand's European sales from Bradshaw Taylor, who had been the brand's U.K.-based European distributor until Dec. 31. Historically, Europe has represented a minimal part of Royal Robbins' sales, which are heavily biased toward North America, but Fenix is determined to change that.
Tjerneld continues to take care of Tierra, whose sales have been growing steadily, but he began to work for Royal Robbins in Europe soon after its takeover, taking orders for the spring/summer 2019 collection. Without giving any figures, he says that he obtained large orders from new customers and existing ones in Europe by taking to a more direct approach. Thanks to the group's vertical structure, Royal Robbins' sales in Europe have reportedly tripled.
Existing clients include big chains like Au Vieux Campeur in France, Bever in the Netherlands and Cotswold Outdoor in the U.K., which have ordered more than before. On top of that, after Fenix' acquisition, Royal Robbins was immediately adopted or more widely purchased by Globetrotter in Germany and the group's other retail chains in Europe: Naturkompaniet in Sweden, Partioiatta in Finland and Friluftsland in Denmark.
Only a few other new specialty retailers in Europe have taken Royal Robbins on board for the spring/summer season, but this is expected to change with the autumn/winter collection, which is wider than before, and with the launch of a new brand campaign.
The message is that Royal Robbins wants the active traveler – male or female – to be comfortable and look good. The message is supported by a new logo for the brand. Presented last year shortly after Fenix' acquisition, it's a combination of a travel sign and the pine tree of the Yosemite National Park, where the brand was born. Named after its founder, a passionate climber who died in 2017, the Royal Robbins brand turned 50 last year.
Meanwhile, Fenix' own sales offices in the Nordic countries, the Benelux countries, Germany and France have started taking care of Royal Robbins directly. In Germany, where Bradshaw Taylor has an office, the person who was handling the brand has moved to the German office of Fjällräven, which has a new country manager (see the News Briefs in this issue).
Little action has taken place so far in Italy, and hardly any in Spain. On the other hand, Fenix says that it is trying to internationalize the brand further through its showrooms in the Asia-Pacific region.
Besides developing the winter range and broadening the target beyond the active mountaineer, Royal Robbins is planning to introduce more specific products for the European market. Sustainability remains a priority in the product development strategy. The technical aspect of the garments is being stressed, with Michael Millenacker, who continues as Royal Robbins' president and chief executive under the new ownership, going as far as to talk – figuratively – about clothing that is fit for space travel.
Besides Tjerneld, ten other executives have started to work for Royal Robbins since last July. Fenix lists among them Tom Shores as director of sales, Annelene Cura-Penos as director of operations and the supply chain, and Kari Rice as director of marketing.
Shores has spent more than 20 years in sales management roles in the outdoor industry with brands such as Mountain Hardwear, Stanley and Columbia. Cura-Penos has more than 20 years of experience in production, sourcing and supply chain strategies, working for major apparel retailers including Gap and Gymboree. Rice has more than 15 years of experience at premium brands such as Mountain Hardwear and Ariat International where she has demonstrated “a passion for purpose-led businesses,” says the group.
Royal Robbins has also major opportunities for expansion in its domestic U.S. market, where it is reportedly sold at only about 200 retail accounts. It has stopped working through Amazon. It has moved into a new office in San Francisco, where the staff has been boosted, and it has opened a new distribution center in Louisville, Colorado.
Fenix, which bought Royal Robbins from a private equity firm, sees Royal Robbins as a neat travel-oriented complement to its main brand, Fjällräven, which is mainly associated with hiking, trekking and other rugged outdoor activities. Besides Tierra, other brands in Fenix' portfolio are Brunton, Hanwag and Primus.