Vaude is determined to push its business in South Korea through retailing by its distributor and licensee in the country, Kovea. The latter is a big fish in the world's second-largest outdoor market behind the U.S. as far as camping products such as stoves and furniture are concerned. Kovea has been Vaude's distributor since 2007 and was granted a license for apparel a year later.
Three years ago, Kovea made it into own retail and currently has 15 doors under its own name that have carried Vaude products, too. From the beginning of 2011, Kovea started to create a network of Vaude-branded stores.
Currently, there are 12 shops of that type across the country and there will be eight more to be opened during this year. They are all franchised and have a selling surface between 85 and 235 square meters. According to Bernd Dietrich, Vaude's export manager for the Far East, the Benelux countries and some Eastern European countries, the business plan is that Kovea will open up to 100 Vaude doors until 2020, or roughly 10 per year.
Dietrich points out that the balance of power between single-brand or corporate stores on the one side and individual specialty stores on the other is clearly shifting to the former type of retail format. Currently, the stores carry to 70-75 percent apparel, some 10 percent footwear and the rest equipment. All footwear and hardgoods are regularly imported by Kovea.
For apparel, Kovea buys 20-30 percent from Vaude's international collection, whereas the other 70-80 percent are developed in the country to meet the Korean demands for taste and fit. As of now the Korean partner develops some 100 own apparel styles, but Dietrich sees the collection growing to some 150 styles in the future.