After a difficult period of re-structuring and two poor winter seasons that especially affected the cross-country business, Fischer is back on track. While the turnover slipped slightly from €134 million to €133 million in the fiscal year ended Feb. 28, earnings before interests and taxes (Ebit) turned from a fat red €13.2 million in the previous year to a balanced result. These figures comprise the sales of the Fischer brand alone. They do not include the numbers for FCT, Fischer’s former automotive business that was sold earlier this year, or Löffler, the group’s brand of cross-country, bicycle and outdoor apparel. Löffler’s sales remained stable at €23 million with an operating profit at approximately €2 million.
Jan-Hein Habes, Fischer’s chief executive, told SGI Europe that the company’s strategy is to become stronger in certain markets such as the U.S., France and Switzerland, where he sees good potential for the brand as well as to become stronger in the summer business. To get a better grip on the American market, negotiations continue between the Austrian company and its current U.S. distributor, Fischer Ski U.S., to establish a joint venture designed to improve the brand’s strength in that market. The concentration on countries with a high potential is also aimed at balancing the difficulties in Eastern Europe, notably in Russia, the world’s largest market for cross-country skis, which is fighting uphill battles against a shrinking economy and a free-falling ruble.
The second major priority to improve and to secure Fischer’s future is to overcome its dependence on winter sports in general and on cross-country in particular. Fischer’s summer business is, as of now, limited to tennis, a market in which the Austrians play a minor role.
The company, therefore, is monitoring possible alliances with strategic partners that might help Fischer to become stronger in the summer business. Habes pointed out that it is too early to explain this new strategy in detail before such potential partners have been found.