Patagonia has strengthened its European team, hiring new top-level managers for its new European office in Amsterdam and in key markets. These and other investments in marketing and sustainability are meant to make the Patagonia brand “more relevant” in a region that still represents only about 10 percent of its global sales, says Ryan Gellert, the American executive who was appointed general manager of Patagonia Europe at the end of last year.
Gellert, a 43-year-old manager who spent the last 15 years with Black Diamond, five of them in China, indicated in an interview that Patagonia has a real opportunity to double its turnover in the region through a higher level of operational excellence, better relations with key commercial partners and a variety of grassroots-oriented activities. After 30 years in Europe, it projects to generate sales of less than €60 million from the region for the financial year ending on April 30, about 10 percent more than in the previous one.
Three new experienced managers have joined the new European office of Patagonia in Amsterdam. Gianluca Pandolfo has assumed the role of European sales director, which did not exist before. Alex Weller will act as European marketing manager, taking the place of Joakim Gip who left the company after a brief stint. Mihela Hladin will serve as environmental and social initiatives manager, taking over some of the functions handled by Isabelle Susini at Patagonia's former European office in Annecy, France.
Pandolfo comes from VF Corporation, where he acted most recently as outdoor category sales director for The North Face in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). He was previously country manager for TNF in Italy, TNF's head of sales for emerging markets and European sales director for Reef. At Patagonia, one of his initial tasks will be to vet the distribution, selecting the strongest partners for a better presentation of the brand and its products.
Born in the U.K., Weller was previously stationed in the Netherlands, working as EMEA brand communications director for Converse. Prior to that, he spent time at Microsoft and performed agency work for brands such as Vans and Levi's. Weller will work with a new European visual merchandising manager, Alberto Zanini, who has been with The North Face and Vans. He was most recently consumer experience manager at TNF.
Hladin founded and operated most recently Greennovate, described as a for-profit consultancy and a non-profit organization focusing on sustainablity-oriented education initiatives in Chinese schools and universities.
While Pandolfo will concentrate on wholesale operations, a long-time employee of Patagonia, Andrea Tomasini, will assume responsibility for European retail, but will continue to be based in Italy. Tomasini, who has acted as Italian country manager for many years, will develop a strategic plan for Patagonia's future retail network in Europe, which consists of eight own stores and 12 partner stores. He will also oversee the existing retail operations and supervise other countries such as Russia and Turkey.
Fabio Zardini, who first joined Patagonia 16 years ago, has been promoted to country manager for Italy. The company is looking for a new U.K. country manager based in London to take the place of Jonathan Petty, now with Montane, and is about to appoint a new country manager for Germany and Central Europe in Munich. The former one, Norbert Sander, is being reassigned to new functions as sales and marketing coordinator.
Patagonia established a new office in Switzerland a year and a half ago. It is run by Bernard Kosher, formerly with Peak Performance. The Annecy office, where more than 20 people are still employed, will remain as the sales office for France and will continue to take care of product development for Europe and other functions.
Marketing and e-commerce have moved from Annecy to Amsterdam, which now employs about 20 people. Gellert says it has been easier to recruit top talent in Amsterdam because of its central location, which is also more convenient for international travel.
Gellert denied a French report indicating that Patagonia wants to get out of lifestyle apparel in Europe. He said the brand will continue to offer a selection of lifestyle-oriented sportswear, but will ensure that this does not dilute its technical image.