Last year, Odlo International, the Swiss-based marketer of functional sportswear, lifted its sales by 2 percent to reach a total of 146 million Swiss francs (€118.0m-$153.8m) in turnover. Jonas Ottosson, the man at the top of Peak Performance for more than two decades and chief executive of Odlo since last September, told this publication that the growth achieved last year was okay, but not good enough for the future.
He said that the company had focused too much on Central Europe but still had strong sales in the German-speaking countries, the Benelux countries and France and turnover in the U.K. was satisfactory. To expand internationally, Odlo sealed a distribution deal for Russia in 2012 and formed a joint venture with a local partner for the Chinese market effective from the beginning of this year. Also high on the agenda is better market penetration in the Nordic countries, where Odlo has picked Sports@Hill, the distributor of Prince and Nike accessories in Sweden, as its new distribution partner for the same country starting with autumn/winter 2013-14.
An agreement for the Norwegian market with a local player is on the way and is set to be announced in a few week's time. Ottosson revealed that the relative weakness of the brand in Scandinavia, where it actually has its roots historically, is partly due to the divestment of the labels named after Scandinavian sports heroes, Lasse Kjus and Bjørn Dæhlie.
As far as retail operations are concerned, Odlo's turnover came in between 16 and 18 percent from single-branded outlets which consist of 25 corporate stores and 20 franchises, plus the brand's online store. Altogether, Odlo supplies 5,500 points of sale worldwide.
Ottosson plans a completely new set-up for the product range. While Odlo is not unhappy with its strong sales of base layers, which currently contribute a hefty 60 percent to the company's total sales, Ottosson sees a larger potential for growth in the sectors of mid-layers and outer shells. The company wants to discover new categories such as snow-wear for alpine and touring ski. Additionally, Odlo wants to become stronger in the area of urban-style outdoor clothing, but insists that its future strategy continues to be based on the technical functionality of any product brought to market.
Odlo's former collections were clearly committed to synthetic materials such as polyester. Ottosson has now announced that the brand will hit the market with natural fibers in winter 2014-15. He was not willing to get into details on this issue.