Fitness: Did you hear?...

Everlast at it again with more licensing, SGMA holding additional TrendCast media events, Germany's sports retailers have a positive sales month in March, Octane Fitness wins "best buy" designation from Consumer Guide, plus much more…
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For the week of April 12-18

>> Everlast Worldwide has entered into two new licensing agreements in Europe and Australia. It is extending its licensing agreement with Globus Trading Group GmbH, based in Nuremberg, Germany, that includes boxing equipment, handheld exercise equipment, aerobic equipment (treadmills, etc.) and weight-lifting equipment in all of Europe with the exception of the U.K. and Republic of Ireland. Produced by Globus Trading, product will be ready for shipment late in the third quarter of this year and will be distributed through sporting goods retailers and better department stores. Also, Everlast has entered into a licensing agreement with Australia's Fenech Boxing Equipment Pty. Ltd. for the development of boxing, handheld exercise, aerobic and weightlifting equipment in Thailand. The licensing agreement also includes the introduction of Everlast-branded professional Muay Thai martial arts equipment and uniforms for Thailand as well as the United States. The martial arts line will be available exclusively at Title Boxing's catalog and website in the United States. Fenech Boxing Equipment Pty. Ltd., an Australian company with offices in Sumatsakorn, Thailand, is headed by former Australian boxing great Jeff Fenech.

>> Even businesses in small towns are getting into the swing of encouraging employees to walk more during the day as a step toward better fitness and health. A small daily newspaper in the Sierra Nevada foothills near SNEWS® headquarters has equipped most of its entire staff, including contract writers, with pedometers emblazoned of course with the name of the paper. They are being encouraged to count steps and try to hit bigger and bigger numbers. But the campaign goes behind the paper's own newsroom; rather, it has sent out the message to the community to call if another company is interested in participating. SNEWS® View: Having tested and used pedometers, there is something to this business for active and inactive alike, and could be an interested gift-with-purchase for a lot of different pieces of equipment or workout gear to encourage users to do more when they aren't just on the equipment.

>> The SGMA in partnership with True North Brand Group is sponsoring its second round of so-called TrendCast events, much like mini, low-key, intimate trade shows, each limited to 20 companies, which are able to show their wares to select media attendees. The first event, in New York late last year (See SNEWS® story, Dec. 3, 2004, "SGMA media soiree showcases fitness products in NY: Pass the sushi and cocktails"), attracted enough of a crowd and enough positive feedback that the SGMA decided to organize two more this spring: One in Los Angeles, May 18; and the second in New York City, June 15. At each event, SGMA president Tom Cove will give a short talk about fitness and sports participation trends. Attending companies pay $3,500 for both events, or $1,500 for Los Angeles and $2,500 for New York City separately. For more information or to reserve a place, contact Mark Tedeschi at True North (781-740-4050) or Mike May, at the SGMA, 561-840-1165. Media will be as in the first event entertained and fed with an open bar, a carving station, hors d'oeuvres and a pasta station. Make sure your pinkie finger is up when holding your cup.

>> GERMANY – Finally, Germany's sporting goods retailers had a good reason to smile: March showed an increase in sales of 9.4 percent compared to March a year ago, according to a monthly survey done the country's trade magazine, Sport+Mode. That means the first three months of the year are showing a plus of 2.2 percent overall in comparison to the first three months of last year, when numbers were in the negative. The report stems from questionnaires sent to geographically widespread dealers, with this month's culled from 103 responses.

>> UNITED KINGDOM – At the IHRSA show in March, Technogym debuted its new Kinesis product, as we wrote, but had it in a private room and showed no pictures or handed out any brochures. However, a picture of the equipment was broadcast internationally recently from the U.K.'s Leisure Media Co. Ltd. So we'll give you a peek here since that company already bust the top-secret bubble. If you can't see the photo, go to www.snewsnet.com to view it live in our Did You Hear section.

>> Nordic walking – that's fitness walk with poles for those who aren't sure -- is getting around and getting more publicity. The New York Times ran a short feature on the emerging sport in its April 14 Fashion & Style section, as did Fitness magazine in its April issue. To check out the NYT article, click here.

>> THE NETHERLANDS -- A court has ruled in favor of Accell Group, the parent of Tunturi, against NMa, the Netherlands Competition Authority, for allegedly false accusations it made against the company in a 2002 press release and annual report. The Court in The Hague said it had been sufficiently proven that the NMa had prejudiced the interests of Accell Group by accusing it of price-fixing in the 2001 cycling season in a November 2002 press release and the text of its 2002 annual report. Accell Group had been ordered to pay a fine of 12.8 million for infringing on competition laws. The NMa referred to a number of remarks made during a meeting with other bicycle manufacturers in June 2000, where casual statements already made previously in public were repeated about passing on higher costs on the selling process of the bicycles it produces because of currency fluctuations. Another meeting in August 2000 referred to in the NMa documents did not take place. Accell Group said the remarks were not confidential commercial information and the policy with regard to cost increases of bike parts, in particular related to currency fluctuations, had already been made public by it on a number of occasions to shareholders, investors and the press. The rice increase in Holland was not noticeably different than neighboring countries, it said. The court has ordered NMa to pay "reputational" damages and the costs of Accell Group's defense. The amount of the damages has not been determined yet.

>> UNITED KINGDOM -- As reported in the April 16 issue of London's Financial Times, LA Fitness has confirmed that it is in exclusive and advanced talks with MidOcean Partners about a recommended cash offer of 220p per share, valuing the company at about GBP 90 million (USD $171.2 million). Formed in February 2003, MidOcean Partners is a New York and London-based private equity firm that manages $3 billion of private equity assets invested in more than 100 portfolio companies. LA Fitness runs 69 clubs. Visit www.ft.com to read the full article (subscription required).

>> The U.S. Census Bureau's Monthly Retail Trade Survey reported preliminary sales in sporting goods stores of $2.01 billion for January, up 2.8 percent from the $1.96 billion in January of 2004. The survey, issuing final sales for December with revisions of some earlier months, reported sales in sporting goods stores of $3.91 billion, up 4.9 percent from the $3.72 billion in December 2003. Total sales for calendar year 2004 were $29.74 billion, up 8.6 percent for the 12 months of 2003 versus the 7.5 percent previously reported. Sporting goods store sales for all of 2003 were $27.38 billion, a 3.8 percent increase versus 2002. Among the 28 retail categories in the survey, sporting goods stores' growth ranked in the top third and exceeded the 7.6 percent growth rate for all retail sales. The overall retail growth represented the strongest increase since 1999's 8.4 percent gain.

>> The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports has asked the American Council on Exercise (ACE) to become an official "Presidential Fitness Partner" during National Physical Fitness and Sports Month in May. The President’s Council will celebrate the month with its free, annual HealthierUS Fitness Festival at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on May 2. The President's Council observes National Physical Fitness and Sports month by creating partnerships that will strengthen the message about the importance of physical activity and fitness throughout life for Americans of all ages and abilities. The goals of the initiative are to persuade all Americans to be physically active every day, eat a nutritious diet, get preventive screenings and make healthy choices. As an official partner, ACE will send celebrity ACE-certified trainer, Chris Freytag, to lead a group fitness workout during the HealthierUS Fitness Festival , and ACE fitness experts will be present to aid in fitness demonstrations, exhibits, interactive sports, games, health screenings and giveaways.

>> RUSSIA -- Strata Partners, the third-largest fitness operator in Russia, plans to open two new fitness clubs -- a mainstream CityFitness in Moscow and an upscale Orange Fitness in Ufa, the capital of republic Bashkortostan. They will be Strata's ninth and 10th clubs in Russia. The company has plans to open 75 clubs in the next five years.

>> In a move toward greater industry transparency and collaboration, Nike said it is voluntarily disclosing, in conjunction with the release of its new corporate responsibility report, the names and locations of the more than 700 active contract factories currently making Nike-branded products worldwide. Both the contract factory list and the report are publicly available on the company's website, www.nikeresponsibility.com. Nike said it is the first major company in the global footwear and apparel industries to disclose publicly its contract supplier base. Trade unions and non-governmental organizations have been asking many major companies to bring greater visibility to industry-wide conditions and to support collaborative efforts to resolve systemic labor, health and safety challenges in contract factories. Nike said its rationale for deciding to disclose its contract factory base is that the potential benefits to the industry and factory workers significantly outweigh the possible competitive risks of revealing the contract factories that produce the company's Nike-branded products.

>> New Balance has commissioned a second bronze statue -- "The Spirit of the Marathon" -- of 1946 Boston Marathon winner Stylianos Kyriakides, the champion Greek runner whose victory helped bring food, medicine and worldwide attention to his famine-wracked country after World War II, and Spiridon Louis, his mentor and winner of the 1896 Olympic Marathon. The 10-foot high statue will be unveiled in Hopkinton in April 2006, the 50th anniversary of Kyriakides' victory, and will be located at the Mile One marker of the Boston Marathon route. The statue will be identical to the one commissioned by New Balance last summer for Marathon, Greece which was the starting point of the marathon event during the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. The statue was created by sculptor Mico Kaufman.

>> Octane Fitness' Q45e elliptical cross trainer recently earned a "best buy" designation from Consumer Guide, which has been reviewing products from cars to appliances for more than 30 years. Its evaluation is available at www.consumerguide.com in the "Fitness Equipment" category.

>> With actress/singer Queen Latifah cheering them on, eight African-American women are participating in the 2005 Healthy BET Fitness Challenge and embarking on a 12-week journey toward healthier lifestyles. The BET Foundation's goal is to promote healthy eating and lifestyle habits to reduce the occurrence of obesity among African-Americans. The BET Foundation, along with General Mills' brands Honey Nut Cheerios and Chex Cereals, launched the challenge in January, and will reward the two-women teams that meet their objectives at the end of the 12-week "challenge phase." The teams received a three-month health club membership, access to a local team trainer for one month, and a supply of Honey Nut Cheerios, Chex Cereals and other General Mills products. The teams that meet their collective goals will receive a three-day/two-night trip to the 2005 BET AWARDS at Hollywood's famed Kodak Theatre, including airfare, hotel and $500 spending money for each team member.

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