The Fenix Outdoor group, which owns the Swedish Naturkompaniet retail chain of outdoor stores along with Fjällräven and several other brands, has extended its retail presence to Finland, where it fully acquired the Partioaitta chain last month.

As part of the acquisition of Partioaitta, the Fenix Outdoor group has bagged this retailer's 70 percent stake in Greendoor, a leading outdoor distribution company in Finland. It has distribution deals with brands such as Marmot, Osprey, Smartwool, Tatonka, Regatta, Nikwax and more – along with several Finnish brands of scout products. The remaining 30 percent of Greendoor is owned by Partiovaruste, another scout organization. Fenix Outdoor said Greendoor should continue to operate as before.

Partioaitta is the largest specialist outdoor retail chain in Finland, with 11 stores around the country. It generated a turnover of about €18 million last year. The profitable retail group has been sold to Fenix by the Finnish boy scouts organization, which apparently wanted to focus on its other tasks, as it faces a slight decline in memberships. The Fenix group intends to expand the Finnish chain, targeting a network of 15 stores a few years from now.

The Fenix group has recently embarked on a spate of acquisitions. In 2009 it added Rosker, a British distribution company, as well as Brunton, an American outdoor brand. Earlier this year it acquired Bus Sport, the distribution company for Hanwag, Fjällräven and several other brands in Switzerland, as well as Fjällräven Arctic Fox, an American distribution company that also runs a Fjällräven store in New York.

The Fenix Outdoor group suffered a 2 percent decrease in its net sales for the first quarter of this year, down to 325.8 million Swedish kronor (€36.3m-$53.0m). The strength of the krona deflated its sales, which would have increased by 5 percent in local currencies. Then again, the two acquisitions described above, in Switzerland and the U.S., added about 4 percentage points to the group's sales for the quarter.

The sales dip in reported terms was entirely attributed to a lower turnover in the group's retail segment in January and February: Sweden experienced a very cold winter starting in November last year, meaning that many consumers equipped themselves for the freezing weather by the end of last year and did not return to the stores early this year. Furthermore, the retail unit faced a tough comparison with an exceptional first quarter of 2010.

Comprising only Naturkompaniet, the retail segment suffered a sales decline of 15 percent to SEK 59.3 million (€6.6m-$9.7m) in the first quarter of 2011, and its operating profit shrunk to just SEK 0.8 million (€89,100-$130,237) from SEK 8.1 million (€0.9m-$1.3m) in the year-ago period. With 27 outlets, the number of stores remained unchanged.

On the other hand, Fenix' brands segment, consisting of Fjällräven, Tierra, Primus, Hanwag and Brunton, saw its sales inch up by 1 percent to SEK 266.6 million (€29.7m-$43.4m) in the quarter. This segment's operating profit increased by 8 percent to SEK 71.8 million (€8.0m-$11.7m).

Adding up the two segments, the Fenix Outdoor group's operating profit slid by 3.5 percent to SEK 65.2 million (€7.3m-$10.6m) for the quarter, due to lower sales at Naturkompaniet and higher amortization. Still, partly due to lower financial costs, the group's net profit landed at SEK 44.0 million (€4.9m-$7.2m), up from SEK 41.9 million for the same period last year (more in The Outdoor Industry Compass).