Mark Billing has been appointed as the new managing director of Trekmates, the British brand of outdoor and adventure travel accessories and clothing that fell under the control of Bollin Group last July. He previously ran True Brands Ltd., which markets True Utility branded pocket tools, and he has a background in fashion and textiles.
The Bollin Group generates annual revenues of more than £50 million (€59.5m-$80.4m) through brands such as Maglite, Mountain Equipment and Ronhill. It has taken over Trekmates through Ensco 992, a majority controlled firm that is changing its name to Outdoor Accessories. The partner is Chris Prentice, who used to control Trekmates. The takeover followed Trekmates' insolvency and the move was described as a pre-packaged rescue deal which saved more than 20 jobs.
Billing is taking the place of Keith Paxton, who became the Nottingham-based firm's MD in June 2011 and is on the lookout for a new job. Prentice, who stays on as chairman of Trekmates, released a statement indicating that Paxton had judged the change of ownership to be a good time to explore other opportunities in the outdoor industry. He gave Paxton credit for developing the brand and for raising its international business from a very low base to 25 percent of sales in a short period.
Paxton had come to Trekmates from Fiskars, where he had worked in the U.S. as executive vice president for Gerber and Brunton. He previously worked for Columbia Sportswear and Adidas, and ran the U.K. operations of Silva. Prentice, who had previously led a management buy-in of Trekmates in 2005, had appointed Paxton after bringing in a private equity investor in Trekmates, Enterprise Ventures, as well as the Co-operative Bank.
With sales of almost £7 million (€8.3m-$11.3m) in the past year, Trekmates has built up its reputation lately with an array of accessories including Gore-Tex gloves, hats, gaiters and an industry-leading flameless cooking system. Its products are sold through its own website and in more than 500 retail stores throughout the U.K. and the rest of Europe.
Trekmates' new management indicates that some exciting and innovative new products are in the pipeline. Billing said his company will strengthen customer service and continue to supply modern technical accessories at popular price points with good margins for the retailers.