Jean-Luc Diard, the former chief executive of Salomon, and his former marketing manager, Nicolas Mermoud, have set up a new company, Hoka One One, to market a new brand of outdoor shoes called Hubbles. The first models for the next autumn/winter season are being presented at the Outdoor Retailer show starting in Salt Lake City today and at the Ispo show in Munich next month.
Credited for the strong development of Salomon in the hiking/trekking segment and its pioneering efforts in trail running, Diard agreed to join Tecnica Group in the summer of 2008 as a vice president, with the task of taking outdoor and other summer-based categories from one-half to two-thirds or three-fourths of its total turnover.
Diard says he will continue to spend more than 95 percent of his work time for Tecnica while pursuing the new Hubbles project, where he is only an investor and a consultant. His son Guillaume is acting as European marketing manager of Hoka One One. Diard says Tecnica has been kept fully informed of his activities at the company, which may serve as an "advanced laboratory" for future products.
His partner Mermoud worked in marketing for Salomon until 1999 and then for Dynastar until 2003. Mermoud is currently acting as chief executive and is in charge of developing the North American market for Hubbles shoes. In Europe, meanwhile, Hubbles is busy developing a network of agents and distributors through Frédéric Moreau, another Frenchman who has been international director of Dynastar and then European sales and marketing director for Dynastar and Lange until the beginning of 2008.
Developed with the help of various athletes and designers, the Hubbles concept is based on a thick interface between the foot and the ground for maximum shock absorption and a new design of the sole that optimizes grip and stability. The developers of the concept, which has been tested by champions, compare Hubbles to that of a freeride mountainbike. The weight of the shoe is lower than that of a classical trail running shoe and comparable to that of a high-performance running shoe. The autumn/winter 2010 collection is starting off with two models for trail running and two others for hiking. Retail prices vary between €140 and €170 per pair.