According to our annual survey of the market, sales of branded outdoor shoes grew by 14.5% at the wholesale level in 2011 worldwide in terms of U.S. dollars, with increases of 9.6 percent in the U.S. and 18.6 percent in the rest of the world. This was better than the global 12.8 percent increase recorded by the segment in 2010, but there are a few important factors that need to be taken into account:

1. The average value of the U.S. dollar declined by about 5 percent against the euro in the course of 2011, and it lost ground against some other currencies, meaning that the growth of the rugged outdoor footwear market outside the U.S. was less than 18.6 percent in terms of local currencies.

2. Like in 2010, many vendors raised their average selling prices to compensate for higher input costs, so the growth of the market was at least 2-3 percent lower in volume all over the world.

3. The market was hit by unseasonable weather patterns in the second half of the year, particularly in Europe at a time when the economy slowed down. As a result, the growth in retail sales was much lower. As previously reported, it was flat or slightly negative in Europe, according to NPD.

All this means that there is a lot of unsold inventory now in the pipeline, especially for the upcoming autumn/winter season. This has been reflected in lower orders for next winter and has already started to generate poorer results for many brands so far this year.

Anyhow, the rugged outdoor footwear market performed better than the athletic shoes market, led by Nike and Adidas, which grew last year by 13.2 percent in dollars, as already reported in a sister publication of ours, SGI Europe.

Our exclusive rugged outdoor footwear chart gives the actual or estimated figures for the invoiced sales of 23 different major companies and 27 different brands, along with their market shares. The figures concern only footwear and refer mostly to wholesale revenues, translated into U.S. dollars at the average exchange rate for each year. The depreciation of the dollar means that European-based companies grew at a lower rate than shown on the chart.

In line with the ongoing consolidation of the industry, we are introducing a new segmentation by groups, listing the three outdoor brands of Wolverine Worldwide and the three outdoor brands of Tecnica Group as sub-segments of their parent companies. The figures given for Tecnica are real, but all those that relate to Wolverine and its brands are estimates, as we were unable this time to get the real ones, with a breakdown by brand.

Wolverine reported an increase of 18 percent in revenues for its outdoor group and said that Merrell had generated revenues of $500 million for the first time, but it failed to disclose its sales increase for footwear only. Our estimates for Merrell excluds its growing apparel segment and include its footwear sales under license, notably in Italy.

Based on our estimates, the market was led by Merrell individually and by Wolverine as a group, but the two runner-ups, Salomon and Columbia Sportswear, raised their market share in footwear. Major sales increases were also recorded by The North Face, which is investing heavily in the footwear category, Genfoot, Teva, Viking and the footwear segment of Salewa. Kamik, which represents most of Genfoot's turnover, has been performing particularly well in Europe.

In general, the smaller players posted lower sales increases than the bigger ones or those that are very technical, such as Scarpa. TrekSta's sales and those of Grisport, which makes shoes for Dawkins, the outdoor shoe brand of ABC-Mart, were fully impacted by the decline of the Japanese market following the March tsunami.

The “others” entry of the chart has increased in size because of our inability to get the figures of two important players, Asolo and Vasque, which have gone through some vicissitudes lately. We think that they have nothing to hide and that they will reintegrate the chart sooner or later.

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