Concurve Has Some Wondering If Gore Is Throwing A Curve

We knew W.L. Gore was launching its own catalog and Web site last year and didn't really give it a second thought. However, when a few dealers and a number of retailers emailed us this last week asking, "What's up with this?" SNEWS® decided to look a little closer.
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We knew W.L. Gore was launching its own catalog and Web site last year
and didn't really give it a second thought. However, when a few dealers
and a number of retailers emailed us this last week asking, "What's up
with this?" SNEWS® decided to look a little closer.

Gore launched Concurve Apparel here in the U.S. last fall with a direct mail catalog and Web site -- www.concurve.com.
The site features a small selection of Gore-Tex and Windstopper
products made by Gore and positioned under the Casual, Multi-Activity,
and Cycling categories -- nothing made with XCR, nothing with N2S,
nothing with AirVantage, and nothing that would appear to directly
compete with companies selling Gore product into a competitive outdoor
market.

Steve Shuster, Gore Consumer Fabrics
business leader, told SNEWS® that the business strategy is not new to
Gore at all and began 14 years ago in Europe when the company could not
get any of its partners interested in selling bike apparel made with
Gore-Tex.

"Our entry into Gore Bikewear began with end users and consumers in
Europe asking us why we didn't have bike clothing made with Gore-Tex,"
Shuster told SNEWS®. "We did the research, realized that there really
was significant demand, still could not get any of our partners
interested, and then decided we'd simply make the product ourselves."

"Gore Bikewear still exists today, even though a number of our
partners, after realizing from our success that they could be
successful and profitable too, began making biking apparel from Gore
products," added Shuster.

"We are continually studying the markets and researching white spots,
or market opportunities, that our current customers are not playing in
to determine if there is a market need," Shuster told us. "We always
have discussions with our customers before going forward within these
segments or categories."

As with bike apparel in Europe (Gore Bikewear had a large booth at the
winter ispo show that concluded last week), Gore's intent is to open up
a category that others don't feel presents a legitimate opportunity due
to perceived market size or value. Then the company can develop value
in that category -- such as kids wear under the Fairgrounds label in
Europe. And just because the company's partners might decide to enter
into the market once Gore opens the market doesn't mean Gore will back
out.

"While we welcome others into any category we have developed, it has
always been our goal to continue to innovate within that category
ourselves," says Shuster.

Shuster points out that any venture, including Concurve, receives no
special treatment from the parent company. "We buy from the Gore fabric
catalog at Gore catalog pricing. There are no special deals."

Gore developed the Concurve trademark for running apparel in Europe,
and decided to utilize that name as the umbrella brand for product
categories that are not being addressed by the company's partners in
North America.

While the site did launch with several garments Shuster acknowledges
might be perceived as competing with current customer offerings, he
quickly added, "Those items are being pulled. It is not our intention
to compete with our customers with product that is already meeting the
needs of the consumer end users."

As to how Gore is reaching the end user with the Concurve brand,
Shuster told us that the company is focusing on communicating with the
reference groups and opinion leaders in the categories they are going
after, such as the bike travel companies, etc. "That approach has been
very successful in Europe -- linking with the reference set -- and we
expect it to be very successful for us in North America too."

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