Johnson Health Tech PR on global growth goals 'unauthorized,' SNEWS learns - SNEWS

Johnson Health Tech PR on global growth goals 'unauthorized,' SNEWS learns

A recent distributed press release to general media about Johnson Health Tech’s global growth goals stirred up a lot of interest and reaction. Turns out it was not issued by the company, SNEWS has learned.
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A recent press release about Johnson Health Tech’s global growth goals issued through a national newswire was “unauthorized,” sources have told SNEWS.

Not that the release held breaking news since the basic information had already appeared on the Taiwan Trade website in 2010 (Click here to see that posting from early 2010, “Taiwan’s Johnson Jumps to #2 Spot of Global Fitness Equipment Makers”). The Taiwan Trade website is run by 35-year-old TAITRA – Taiwan External Trade Development Council – which as a nonprofit has a goal, in part, of helping leading Taiwan-based brands such as Johnson expand global awareness of the brand. The website is sponsored by Taiwan’s Bureau of Foreign Trade.

But expanding on that information, the latest headline indeed raised awareness -- and a few eyebrows: “Johnson Aims for 25% of Global Fitness Market by 2015,” it noted. The release reported, “Last year, Johnson overtook Nautilus to become the world's second-largest home fitness equipment manufacturer with sales of US$160 million behind only Icon. The figure is expected to climb to US$200 million this year and continue growing to US$560 million in 2012.”

Insider sources have noted that it did not come from inside the company, and it did not reflect the brand’s communication. The source listed on PR Newswire was the TAITRA group. Johnson Fitness company executives declined to comment when SNEWS inquired about the release and its contents.

It's no secret that Johnson (www.johnsonfitness.com) and its brands – Matrix, Vision, Horizon, AFG and Livestrong – are growing at a good clip. Most recently, Johnson Health Tech reported second-quarter retail sales gains of 46 percent in North American and a 36-percent gain in worldwide commercial sales, year over year (click here to see an Aug. 15, 2011, SNEWS Industry News release).

In February 2011, a report issued by Johnson noted its year-end growth was 21 percent worldwide for 2010 over 2009, driven in particular by strong commercial sales (click here to see that Feb. 10, 2011, SNEWS story).

When SNEWS visited Johnson headquarters and its manufacturing facilities in Shanghai, China, in 2006, founder Peter Lo explained the brand’s growth trajectory and goals (click here to see a Sept. 18, 2006, SNEWS report, “Johnson Health brands taking big steps globally”). At that time, Lo said Johnson was fifth globally.

Lo is not one to shy away from the public eye or revealing company information. In 2006, he told SNEWS that he took his company public on the Taiwan Stock Exchange indeed to gain the public eye, not raise cash.

"We need the people to know, 'Who is Johnson,' " Lo explained then. "We went public not to get money," but rather it was a strategic decision.

Other larger brands that had been in the top five or six globally have since encountered troubles of their own. Nautilus began selling and licensing its commercial assets to return to its focus on home equipment in 2009, lowering its overall revenues in the process as a path to regain financial stability (click here to see a Sept. 30, 2009, SNEWS financial story). Although recently new Nautilus CEO Bruce Cazenave told SNEWS the company has plans to expand abroad (click here to see a June 29, 2011 SNEWS interview with Cazenave). And Star Trac was sold and restructured in 2010 under new ownership of Michael Bruno (Click here to see a July 7, 2010, SNEWS story).

--Therese Iknoian

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