In a rare move, Klaus Lenhart, owner and managing director of Leki, has disclosed a few figures from his company and the market of trekking and ski poles in an exclusive interview with SGI EUROPE. Leki sold more than 1,000,000 pairs of poles in 2007. Lenhart emphasizes “pairs” because some of his competitors mix up pairs and pieces to obscure the real figures, Lenhart says. The company, from Kirchheim outside Stuttgart, has sold more than 1 million pairs for a couple of years in a row, but the precise figures have varied from one year to the other depending on the quality of the winters and the evolution of the decreasing market for Nordic walking poles.

The share of production of OEM goods for third parties is traditionally relatively low at 5 percent of the entire volume. Leki continues to manufacture ski poles for Head and Stöckli. While Lenhart is not willing to disclose his company’s turnover, he hinted that trekking poles make 40 percent of his business in terms of volume, compared with 60 percent from ski poles. In terms of value, the ratio is the opposite because adjustable poles can be sold at a higher price than fixed-length ski poles. This is partially thanks to Leki’s “Trigger” technology, which allows the consumer to disconnect the loop from the pole easily.

Leki sees itself as the largest manufacturer of poles for sporting activities in the world, but admits that it is not leading in every category. It estimates it is in front for trekking poles, where it is rivaled only by Komperdell of Austria. In the alpine ski business, the big competitor is Scott. For cross-country poles, the brand thinks it is No. 3 behind Swix and Exel. Cross-country poles make about 10 percent of Leki’s annual production. Additional competition comes from a bunch of Chinese factories that seem to have impressive sales in the lower price range, for no-name products or OEM production for Western ski brands. There are about 30 companies in the Far East that compete on this segment (more in The Outdoor Industry Compass).