Ruffwear's distribution has expanded to more than 300 outdoors stores around Europe, as the regional partner for the Oregon-based brand of active dog gear is supporting them to work this category, which is not dependent on the weather.
The Accapi Group started distributing Ruffwear in the U.K. seven years ago, and in 2013 it added most other European countries, apart from Spain and Italy. The British company's sales with Ruffwear reached about €7 million last year, after more than 40 percent growth in each of the last three years. It covers 24 European markets including the U.K., working with agents and wholesalers, and delivering directly from a third-party warehouse in Britain.
Accapi has steadily added retail accounts to reach about 1,500 European stores, including pet specialists and camping and leisure centers. But at the same time, Ruffwear's European partner has been allowed to develop starter and sell-through packages that have enabled it to grow by 30 percent with existing customers last year.
The brand has been helped in the outdoor market by the vagaries of the European weather, which made it easier to sell a brand with relatively consistent sales all year round, regardless of the season. Active dog gear often adds a new category to outdoor stores, and Accapi has worked out elaborate packages to support retailers. They get a starter kit as well as a sell-through package, free products for key members of retail staff and in-store training for three to four weeks.
Accapi is targeting sustained growth with existing customers in the next few years, partly due to extra products. Ruffwear added eight of them for the fall, such as a USB-rechargeable beacon with three colors, and another 17 are coming up next spring.
Accapi was established by Andrew Greere, who formerly ran a subsidiary for Aigle in the U.K., together with George Heydon, a start-up specialist, who is the majority shareholder in the business. It sells two other U.S. brands specializing in dog equipment, Kurgo for travel gear and Planet Dog for toys.