Taking baby steps since Accell Fitness North America began three years ago when Accell, based in The Netherlands, acquired its Canadian distributor, the group is now ready to disengage the two brands -- Tunturi and Bremshey -- to help them grow on their own and forge their own identities.
Initially just two brands -- called "good" and "better" -- under the Accell Fitness name when the company launched to the industry in North America in August 2006, now Accell will only be the holding company. Retailers will show either one brand or the other, while consumers will only see a brand and shouldn't even hear the Accell name.
"We always wanted Bremshey Sport to be a brand and Tunturi to be a brand," said Dave Neziol, formerly overall Accell vice president of sales and now focusing only on Bremshey. "Accell Fitness is not a brand. We want to push Tunturi and Bremshey Sport to the foreground. They're not buying Accell; they are buying Tunturi or Bremshey Sport."
The structure is more like what Johnson Health Tech North America has done with its three brands -- Horizon/AFG, Vision and Matrix -- with one difference: At Accell, which is traded on the Amsterdam's Euronext exchange as ACCEL, the two brands will be housed in one place, and both will share appropriate sales and operational resources. Plus, they will not be shy about saying they are from the same group.
"We are going to take full advantage of the fact that we are one company," said Jay White, hired in early March for the newly created position of vice president of sales for the Tunturi brand. White had previously been at Diamondback and, before that, Vision.
Over the last few years -- and even before Accell stepped in in 2005 (click here to read an April 2005 SNEWS® story, "Tunturi parent Accell buys Wynne in Canada.") -- the Tunturi brand's recognition and reputation had weakened. Where it once was one of the go-to brands, it had nearly disappeared from many stores. In the last three years, while newly introduced Bremshey has gained ground, Tunturi has not. In fact, Tunturi now accounts for about a third of Accell's business, Neziol said.
"Tunturi was not getting the attention it deserved," Neziol said, since he found he was busy building the Bremshey brand.
This means that retailers will hear from two salespeople if they have both brands and go through separate training sessions. However, White and Neziol will pass retailers back and forth as needed to best suit their needs, and retailers will all work with one service center, no matter what brand. Neziol said the two will not compete against each other but communicate in everybody's best interest.
"Working together is why we are doing this," Neziol said. "Product is very important but so are people."
Bremshey will remain a specialty-only item, the two pointed out, since they said the retailers were clear they didn't want to compete with the big-box stores. Its suggested retails will remain in the "good" category, with for example treadmills listing for approximately $1,000 to $1,900. Tunturi will take the higher price range with treadmills that have lists of about $1,600 and $4,800, with the higher prices being the light commercial models.
"The brands are sold completely differently," White added.
The Health & Fitness Business Show in July will be the relaunch for the Tunturi brand, White said. In the future, the two will have separate booths, but this year there will be some kind of visual separation since it was too late for a new booth layout or structure.
"We want the brands to stand out separately first and foremost," Neziol said. "This is the beginning of another chapter for us and our brands."