Benetton has completed the sale of Nordica to Franco Vaccari, a minority investor with the Tecnica Group, for just under $40 million U.S. The irony of the sale is that it was Benetton that purchased Nordica from Vaccari and Tecnica in 1989 -- for $120 million.
Nordica has been struggling of late, which is why Vaccari was able to buy the brand at a nearly bargain-basement price. Consider that the company posted sales of 278 billion lire ($225 million U.S.) on sales of 1.7 million pairs of boots back in 1989 -- the year Benetton acquired the brand. In 2001, sales had plummeted to $97.5 million on 730,000 pairs of boots, plus 100,000 pairs of skis.
Vaccari became a minority shareholder in the Tecnica Group following the sale of Dolomite to the company in 1998. The Tecnica Group is run by Giancarlo Zanatta and his son, Alberto Zanatta, and owns the brands Tecnica, Think Pink, Dolomite and Lowa. The company also has financial interests in Nitro snowboards, Marker ski bindings and Volkl skis.
Maurizio Di Trani, marketing and communications director for the Tecnica Group, told SNEWS that Nordica fit perfectly into the company's acquisition model. "We always seek companies with great brand equity, a high profile both technologically and in marketing, with an undeveloped potential for big growth, and coherence with the main business of our group. Nordica fit that model perfectly."
In 2001, the Tecnica Group reported sales of $395 million U.S. Add in the company's shares in Marker, with sales of $104 million U.S., and Volkl, with sales of $119 million U.S., and you begin to get the picture of a formidable worldwide presence.
With the addition of Nordica to the fold, the Tecnica Group now clearly dominates the ski boot market. Between the three brands, 1.3 million pairs of ski boots were sold last year -- nearly 35 percent of the market. In terms of positioning, not much is expected to change insiders tell us. Tecnica sits at the high end, Nordica is expected to remain targeted to the middle- to high-end skier, and Dolomite remains firmly entrenched as the entry-level play.
Like the Tecnica Group's other brands, Nordica will, for the time being, operate as a separate business unit according to Di Trani, totally independent in terms of marketing strategy and brand positioning with different teams, different goals and a different sales organization.
SNEWS View: Thought you recognized the last name of the majority owner of the Tecnica Group? It's possible. Giancarlo Zanatta is the brother of Ambrosiano Zanatta and together they founded Tecnica. The two brothers parted ways (Ambrosiano no longer has any involvement in Tecnica), and it is Ambrosiano's children, Marco, Luca and Anna Zanatta, who are the owners of Asolo and now, Lowe Alpine -- you've been hearing about them in SNEWS coverage of late. Sharing the same last name, though, is as close as the family gets to being a family. Neither side has much to do with the other, certainly not in business affairs. There is one common story thread between the two families thoughâ€¦buying damaged goods from Benetton. Consider that when the Zanatta's (Marco, Luca and Anna) purchased Asolo back from, yes, Benetton, the brand was suffering with a dismal sales record and little sizzle. Now, it is a brand on the rise and already in acquisition mode, as evidenced by the recent purchase of Lowe Alpine. As for the other two Benetton brands still in play, it is rumored that Rollerblade will go to a Canadian company -- The Hockey Company. Prince, it is rumored, will be sold to the current management of that company. We trust that Benetton has tired of buying brands and then selling them at a loss?