Arena has reported growth of 7 percent to €110 million on a wholesale-equivalent basis in 2012 and is budgeting a further increase to €120 million for 2013. The Italian-based company scored well also in terms of profitability as its operating earnings before amortization (Ebitda) increased last year to €15.7 million on consolidated revenues of €82.2 million, up from Ebitda of €14.2 million the year before. The company's chief executive, Cristiano Portas, is predicting a further improvement to €17 million for this year.

The figures don't include a similar turnover for Arena's operations in the Far East, where the rights to the brand are owned by Descente. Globally, the brand generated last year a turnover of around $285 million. That was way below Speedo's turnover of $495 million, but their score outside the U.S. was roughly comparable.

Much of Arena's progress came last year from the U.S. market, which is still dominated by Speedo. Arena's sales in that country jumped to €4.7 million in 2012 from only about €500,000 in 2011, after the brand took over the distribution of its products from Gathering Storm Athletic Group. They are expected to double in 2013, thanks in part to the brand's new eight-year partnership with USA Swimming.

Anxious to establish its credibility in the pools at the competitive level, the company is using a network of 12 agents in the U.S. to cover essentially team dealers, although it has just started a test with a multi-sport retailer in New York City, Paragon Sports, because of its international clientele. It has an automatic replenishment program with eight selected “Diamond dealers” in the country. Arena is also working with Amazon and with the online shop of Swim Outlet.

Arena has invested heavily in its operations in the U.S., which are based in Portland, Oregon and are now run on a full-time basis by Tim McCool, who previously divided his time between Arena and Babolat. Steve Ozmaier, a former manager of Skins like McCool, is now marketing manager of Arena North America, and he is assisted by Nelson Dieber, a former Olympic champion who is acting as sports marketing director. Travis Burke, who comes from Nike, is product manager of the U.S. company. Bruce Mosbrucker is in charge of finance, operations and IT.

New managers have also joined the company at its head office in Italy. Simone Mosca, who worked previously for Indesit and Tod's, became chief financial officer last January, taking the place of Enrico Tricarico. As previously reported, new on the team are also Federico Delunas, head of global marketing; Giovanni Ciampaglia, in charge of digital marketing and e-commerce; and Greg Steyger, global product manager for triathlon and compression garments.

Record sales were also registered by Arena last year in France and Germany. They rose by 11 percent in both countries to reach levels of €26.4 million and almost €12 million, respectively. They fell for the third year in a row in Italy, down to €22.8 million, butPortas is budgeting €23.8 million for this year.

Some of the overall growth has been driven by Arena's high-end Racing Carbon Pro line, particularly in the U.S. and Canada, with some 60,000 pieces worth €6 million shipped against 20,000 pieces worth €2 million in the previous year.