Sioen Industries, a big Belgian player in the realm of spinning, weaving, coating and manufacturing of outdoor apparel, is serious about bringing its own brand, Baleno, into the outdoor retail circuit.

This apparel brand has been around for a while, but it has been concentrating exclusively on the hunting and fishing distribution channels. It is now aiming to address the broader outdoor scene with a new casual line of functional apparel, it was thus shown at Ispo for the first time.

Sioen is about to contract sales agents across Europe, targeting in a first step central and western European countries such as the Netherlands and France. It has hired Karl Snauwaert as Baleno’s man in Belgium. His company, All About Sports, is already in charge of sports brands such as Meindl and Mikasa for Belgium and Luxembourg.

In Germany and Austria, Dieter Dotzel, agent in the region for Graninge footwear from Sweden and for Never Lost accessories, was already in charge of Baleno for the hunting and fishing sector, and he is now adding the outdoor shops to his list.

Sioen Industries was founded by Jean-Jacques Sioen and his father in the 1950’s and manufactured initially tarpaulins for trucks and related products. The legend says that Fjällräven’s founder, Åke Nordin, tried to put together one of his first backpacks from this material, but failed because the product was far too heavy.

Sioen launched the Baleno brand in the hunting and fishing market in 1974. In the meantime the Belgian company became a major player in supplying textiles to big outdoor brands such as Arc’teryx, Salomon, Helly Hansen, Jack Wolfskin, Napapijri and others ihn the broader outdoor, sports and leisure sector.

The Belgian group’s annual sales are some €380 million, of which €80 million come from the processing of apparel. It operates 22 manufacturing plants worldwide; the production of apparel and textiles takes place in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The company is stock-listed, but some 80 percent of the shares are controlled by the Sioen family. Following Jean-Jacques Sioen’s death in late 2009, the group has been run by his wife, Jacqueline. Their three daughters also work in the company.