Tenson has found fresh impetus under the ownership of Unlimited Sports Group (USG) in the Netherlands, which acquired the Swedish sports brand nearly three years ago. Since then, Tenson has been fully integrated into USG, and this has enabled it to improve its pricing and its distribution.
This was validated by a survey carried out each year by Sportfack, the Swedish trade magazine, about the performance of the 100 leading sports and outdoor brands and distributors in the market. While Tenson did not even appear in the rankings two years ago, it was taken up last year and shot up to the ninth spot in the survey released by Sportfack a few days ago. The jump shows the appreciation of retailers for the service levels, sell-through and margins offered by Tenson.
Their satisfaction has apparently translated into a 20 percent increase in Tenson's sales this year, spread evenly among the brand's largest markets. The brand has been helped by the timely arrival of cold and snow in Sweden a few weeks ago, which came as a huge relief to the country's sports and outdoor retailers after the mild winter of last year left them with piles of leftover stock.
Tenson's acquisition by USG has not brought about any radical changes in the company's structure or its management, which is still headed by Johan Lövqvist in Gothenburg. However, it has helped Tenson to reduce its purchase prices and to make other strategic moves such as the launch of a footwear range. USG is active in the footwear sector as a licensee for Le Coq Sportif and Pantofola d'Oro, and it acquired the Valsport brand almost two years ago. The Tenson footwear range, which was started last year, is sourced by a footwear team based at USG's head office in Amsterdam and marketed by footwear sales teams carrying these brands in each of the countries where USG operates.
The largest markets for Tenson are still the Benelux countries and Scandinavia, but the brand has been expanding rapidly in the German-speaking countries recently. While Tenson previously covered these markets with an agent, it now leans on the infrastructure of a local USG team selling Tenson along with Helly Hansen. The Dutch group has a license for the Norwegian brand in the Benelux countries, Germany and Austria, and it has six showrooms in these two German-speaking countries.
In the Benelux countries, Tenson has been taken up at Perry Sport, the sports performance retailer owned by the USG group. The Swedish brand is also starting to sell on a small scale at Primo, a retailer owned by USG in Belgium. Overall, Tenson generates about half of its sales in sports stores, while the remainder comes from fashion stores.
Another growth market for Tenson is Russia, where it has a partnership with the national ski cross team. It started for the last season, when Russian ski cross athletes were using Tenson-branded racing suits, and this year the partnership was expanded to include training gear for the team.
Tenson is also starting distribution in Finland, where it has teamed up with Kai Toivonen from Veruco Oy, the agent for Ziener and Vivobarefoot footwear, among others. The U.K. is another country in Tenson's sights, particularly since Steve Preston, one of the most senior executives at the USG group, returned to the U.K. a few months ago to head international development for USG.
Apart from supervising the Dutch group's business in new markets, Preston has also started offering the private labels of USG's retail formats to other companies in the European Union: They may be retailers or brand owners who are in search of a brand to complement their existing price range.
Preston's efforts currently focus on Wildebeast, the private label of Perry Sport for outdoor products. Encompassing footwear, apparel and equipment, Wildebeast makes up more than 30 percent of outdoor sales at Perry Sport, and USG claims that it has become the second-largest outdoor brand in the Netherlands after The North Face.