Boreal USA has shut down operations after 12 years of distributing in the United States for the Spanish-owned parent company, Boreal.
Boreal USA owner Steve West told SNEWS that the decision was mutual and made as a result of too many changes in the U.S. market currently.
In what could be considered quite a blow to Boreal's hopes to continue with a respectable sales presence here in the United States, SNEWS has learned that REI dropped Boreal from the company's climbing shoe program just days ago.
While a few insiders told us Boreal would now be selling direct to U.S. retailers, several retailers told us that they had already received sales calls from a new distributor for Boreal -- though no one could remember the name of the company other than to say they thought the company also distributed golf shoes and cheerleading supplies. No confirmation on the truth of that commentary, but the very fact that retailers who had received sales calls could not remember the name speaks volumes.
SNEWS View: Why did Boreal USA shut down, really? We can say with certainty that West's relationship with the Spanish parent company in recent years was disagreeable at best, no secret there. Through our coverage of the sales impact that European dot-coms have had on the rock climbing shoe business over the last several years, West repeatedly pointed out that Boreal continued to turn a blind eye to the problem. U.S. reps for the company constantly bemoaned the state of affairs, with several even quitting over the difficulties that went so far as to have retail staff wondering aloud in clinics why they could buy shoes cheaper from Europe than the rep could offer via pro-deal. The problems reach well beyond the dot-com influence, though. Boreal has become a weak player in this market at best, simply because Boreal Spain doesn't appear to understand what it takes to play here. There is no evidence that it has invested in the brand properly to support the sales efforts in recent years. Add to the bag of troubles the issues of price deflation plaguing rock shoes, as well as increasing and very intense competition from new players such as Mad Rock -- www.madrockshoes.com -- and, well, the proverbial writing calling for Boreal USA to close was on the climbing wall months ago. While Boreal remains relatively strong in Japan and Spain, and in certain other pockets in Europe, its global sphere of influence is shrinking faster than an ice cube melting on a hot sidewalk. Many feel that the brand will now become just another RIP marker in the growing graveyard of veteran companies that couldn't or didn't adapt to a changing U.S. and world marketplace.