Clazados Boreal L.S., (Boreal) and The Ralph Libonati Company have agreed to terminate the U.S. distribution agreement begun April 2003, leaving Boreal flying solo for now.
Both Steve Libonati, owner of The Ralph Libonati Company, and Jesus Garcia, marketing manager for Boreal, told SNEWSÂ® that the parting of ways was mutual.
"Boreal is a great brand, run by a great family who cares very deeply about the quality of its product," Libonati told us. "It was a difficult decision for me, but with my other parts of the business going so well, I was not able to spend the time I needed or wanted on continuing to serve the Boreal brand and our customers."
â€œThis has been a tough choice for both of us, but we believe that through this decision Boreal's position in the U.S. market will strengthen in the future and we will be able to better serve our current clients," said Garcia. â€œBoreal is one of the few companies that still manufactures all their footwear in its own factory in Spain, and therefore our response time and service is always first class.â€
Boreal USA has managed to maintain a tad of consistency with Julie Pearson who has been with the brand, first with Steve West and then Steve Libonati, for 14 years.
Pearson has informed us she will be acting as the U.S. sales agent for Boreal and is working diligently right now to ensure retail accounts are kept informed, stocked with product, and are able to make appointments at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market. Pearson can be reached by phone at 949-488-8000.
SNEWS View: Since taking over distribution of the brand a little over a year ago, Libonati has had to work very diligently to restore Boreal's credibility with many retailers -- credibility damaged for a variety of reasons evident by reading past stories in SNEWS.Â With this change in structure, Boreal has a very limited window to ensure current retailers remain confident and secure in staying the course. Boreal is banking on a strong response to it's new climbing rubber, FS Quatro, which the company claims offers the "highest level of friction and consistency on the market." But it will take more than just great shoes and great rubber, which from what we saw while in Friedrichshafen, Boreal has in abundance, to allow the company to garner more than just curious interest from U.S. retailers. There is simply too much good competition at very competitive pricing. And while the Euro has leveled the European web-based discount distribution model in favor of the U.S. and its lagging dollar for now, it also means Boreal, once a category leader, can't play the price game, which will hurt it as the company seeks to regain consumer confidence and retailer loyalty. We trust that Boreal will quickly move to set up a direct distribution model here in the U.S., either on its own or via third party warehousing solution such as those offered by Watershed or Peregrine.