Lafuma America is not going anywhere but into a growth mode, Guillaume Linossier, general manager, told SNEWS. The rumor mill has been grinding into overdrive regarding the fate of Lafuma America, with favorites ranging from "going out-of-business" to "they're transferring offices to the new Canadian facility."
What is really happening is Lafuma is shifting subsidiary responsibilities around, to give greater focus to the outdoor business from the Boulder, Colo., Lafuma America offices.
Camping furniture, which is a huge business for Lafuma here in the United States, will now be handled by Coast Distribution, a company that serves the boating and RV recreation market. While Lafuma America will still be the sales contact for outdoor specialty dealers here in the United States, all orders will be shipped from the Coast warehouses.
Lafuma America will remain -- for now -- based in Boulder with a staff of six (downsizing from the current staff of eight). Outdoor products will continue to be shipped from the company's Chicago-based warehouse.
"We have doubled our sales force and want to push hard in the outdoor market," Linossier told SNEWS. "Until now, the largest part of our business was our furniture, and not enough in outdoor.
"Our clothing and hardgoods business is growing, especially in the packs and sleeping bags area," he added. "It takes a while to get established in this market, but we feel we are moving well now, with bigger companies such as Galyan's and Uncle Dan's doing very well with our line."
SNEWS View: Lafuma sleeping bags and packs are gaining traction with the bigger retailers because of the value without a doubt -- solid products at a great price. Whether a more focused sales force can leverage the brand into higher-end specialty retailers remains to be seen. Linossier told us the company is also looking to bring in footwear and to that we say, good luck! In footwear, even a good value isn't going to be worth much to a retailer without great fit, strong marketing and consumer buy-in, and that's not likely with all the other already established and quality choices on the store shelves right now.