The Swix Sport Group is further expanding its offering with the acquisition of Hard Rocx, a Norwegian brand specializing in high-end mountain bicycles, which should be completed at the start of next year. The Swix group, which already owns several brands of outdoor and winter sports apparel, footwear and equipment, is buying the bicycle company from its founders and management as part of its strategy to strengthen its year-round offering.
Hard Rocx is a Norwegian company turning out about 7,000 bicycles per year at an average price in the range of 15,000 Norwegian kroner (€1,569-$1,705). Distributed entirely through Norwegian specialist bicycle retailers, Hard Rocx is described as the country's leading brand for endurance mountain bikes, and this year it moved also into the electric bicycles market.
Hard Rocx was established in Oslo in 1992 by Lasse Mjerskaug and Steinar Trygve Liljedahl Karlsen, the company's chief executive. He owns about 80 percent in the bicycle company, with the remainder in the hands of Mjerskaug and another manager. The company's management is to remain in place at its offices in Oslo.
Ulf Bjerknes, chief executive of the Swix group, says that expansion should start in Sweden, where the Norwegian group already has strong infrastructure. It was reinforced nearly four years ago by the acquisition of Lundhags, which specializes in outdoor footwear. While Swix will capitalize on the strength of the Hard Rocx brand name in Norway, the Swix brand will be used more prominently for bicycles sold in other European markets. The range will be adjusted from 2017, to feature the Swix name and to launch many products in the MTB and electrical bicycle market.
The Swix Sport Group, which is owned by Ferd, a family-owned Norwegian investment group, sells ski wax under the Swix and Toko brands as well as ski poles by Swix and apparel and footwear from Swix, Ulvang, Bavac and Lundhags, while its Original subsidiary is described as a leader in the team wear sector in Scandinavia, with the Kalas and Swix brands.
Swix and Hard Rocx often have the same core customers in what Swix calls the Birkebeiner segment: This is a series of cross-country skiing, running and cycling endurance races held in Norway, with many participants who ski in the winter but run and cycle in the summer.
Bjerknes says the group's performance has been satisfactory despite unfavorable exchange rate changes for the Norwegian currency. However, the weather has been unusually mild in Scandinavia so far this year and sales would greatly benefit from snowfall in the coming days.
Among the latest projects, the company opened a large-scale concept store in Lillehammer in August. Selling the group's brands, the Blåswixbutikken allows visitors to watch the production of Blåswix wax through large windows in the shop, and to purchase the products straight from the assembly line.