Commenting on recent reports that it is looking for an equity injection by an institutional investor, an executive of Dainese says that it is rather interested in working with a strategic investor that can help use its vast technical know-how to diversify into other sectors. Stressing that the company is financially solid, he said that some equity funds looked at Dainese during the second part of 2013, but nothing came out of it.
Meanwhile, the high-tech Italian developer of protection gear for motorcycling, skiing and other sports has boosted the staff of its multi-sport division, run by Alberto Bardin. He is now assisted for the first time by dedicated product development and marketing officials. After working as product manager at Dainese for seven years, Bardin took the place of Alessandra Grolla at the helm of the multi-sport unit two years ago.
Continuing a process that had already started under Grolla, he has created a more dedicated network of sales agents and distributors in Italy and elsewhere who specialize in the sporting goods trade instead of selling Dainese's motorcycling products as well. For example, two years ago Dainese assigned the distribution of its sports products in France to Ricochet, which already serviced the sports retail circuit with brands such as Asolo and Ziener. Sales of these products have risen by about 50 percent in France as well as in the Benelux countries, where they are now sold by PTK, a former distributor of Kjus.
In Italy, Dainese has set up a network of sports-specific agents. Capitalizing on its Italian origin and its technical know-how, Dainese recently entered the Korean, Japanese and Chinese markets.
Thanks to this more focused policy, Dainese's sales of ski outerwear, helmets, spine protection gear and other sports products have been rising again over the past two-three seasons to reach an annual level of around €15 million. That is still a relatively small amount as compared to the company's total turnover, which reached €130 million last year. A few years ago, its sales of sports products were closer to €20 million, or about one-fifth of the company's total revenues, but they subsequently plummeted because of the economic recession, company officials said.
Dainese got a lot of visibility at the recent Winter Olympics in Sochi as the supplier of a sophisticated airbag mechanism to a dozen sponsored alpine skiers, derived from an ABS technology that it has already successfully developed for Valentino Rossi and other motorcycling champions. The variant for the protection of skiers makes use of a GPS and gyroscopes to activate the airbag.
Dainese's new device was only used for training purposes because of the guidelines of the International Ski Federation (FIS), but the regulatory body has been asked to authorize its use in competitions at a meeting in Barcelona next June. Anyhow, company officials indicate that it may take another couple of years to collect sufficient data to fine-tune the algorithm for the commercial release of the airbag mechanism.