Mont Bell Returns to U.S. Market

After a hiatus from the U.S. market beginning in the late '90s, Mont Bell Japan is returning to the U.S. beginning this fall for an initial introduction of select product in a number of REI stores. That introduction is part of an overall deal crafted with Isamu Tatsuno, founder and CEO of Mont Bell.
Author:
Publish date:

After a hiatus from the U.S. market beginning in the late '90s, Mont
Bell Japan is returning to the U.S. beginning this fall for an initial
introduction of select product in a number of REI stores. That
introduction is part of an overall deal crafted with Isamu Tatsuno,
founder and CEO of Mont Bell.

Under the agreement, Mont Bell, currently a $160 million company,
purchased REI's money-losing store in Machida City, Japan, and turned
it into a Mont Bell store. That store's signage still carries a small
REI logo according to Tatsuno. In addition, Mont Bell will sell a
select number of REI-branded products for the Japanese market. REI, in
turn, has agreed to carry a selection of Mont Bell products (some
outerwear and one sleeping bag, we're told) for the U.S. market in its
six flagship stores and for sale on its website.

Beginning in Spring 2003, Mont Bell plans to open a very select number
of specialty retailers in the U.S. through the efforts of its lone
representative, James Heiden, based in Mont Bell-USA's new Boulder,
Col. digs.

Heiden told SNEWS® that all products will carry U.S. sizing and be
warehoused here in the U.S. All customer service for the products will
also be handled through his office in Boulder.

For more information, contact Heiden at customerservice@montbell-usa.com or by phone at 303-449-7681.

SNEWS® View:
Tatsuno has been burned before in the U.S., so it is of little wonder
that he is moving very slowly and deliberately this time, maintaining
control of his brand's image and product distribution. His past two
experiences in the U.S. -- watching helplessly as a moderately
successful Mont-Bell USA line was deep-sixed along with the Outdoor
Industry Group's (Moonstone, Mont-Bell, Wild Roses, Quest) messy
bankruptcy proceedings, and a somewhat bitter lawsuit with Mountain
Hardwear over sleeping bag technology rights -- left Tatsuno with an
unpleasant taste for U.S. business practices. His passion for the
outdoors and the quality of his designs and products are undisputed
however, so it is no surprise to us to see him venture back into a
climate where he believes opportunity still exists for an innovative
brand that will only be distributed at the specialty level. Still don't
know Mont Bell? Consider this: Sierra Designs licenses his patented
stretch stitch technology (the one that caused the lawsuit with
Mountain Hardwear) in its sleeping bags. Mont Bell has offices in
Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and now the U.S., and is a Japanese distributor
for Perception, Atlas snowshoes, and other U.S. and European companies.
In addition to its own stores in Japan, Mont Bell sells its brand to
other leading Japanese outdoor specialty retailers.

Related

The Bell Experience

A feast of fried gator and a paddle down the exotic Hillsborough River were just two highlights during an outing hosted by Bell Canoe Works. From Jan. 15-19, about 40 members of the canoeing community gathered near Tampa, Fla., to get face time with Bell employees and try a few ...read more

SmartBellphoto.gif

Smart Bells

The Smart Bell is a rather fascinating strength-training accessory. Forget the typical dumbbells of whatever shape or size that you hold in a hand. These are sculpted discs that curve oh-so-slightly resembling a dish or serving platter -- but prettier. About 12 inches by 15 ...read more

Northern Lights treading water in U.S. market

Since Ontario, Canada-based, fitness equipment manufacturer Northern Lights lost industry veteran Jhan Dolphin a few months ago (see SNEWS story from Sept. 24), the company appears to be quietly treading water in the U.S. market and keeping curiously mum about its plans. Dolphin ...read more

Jim Henry joins the Bell team

Bell Canoe Works announced it reached a production agreement with Mad River co-founder and former Mad River designer Jim Henry. The agreement follows almost two months of dialogue initiated by Henry concerning the feasibility of a partnership. Confluence Watersports, owners of ...read more

ORC Industries agrees to acquire Bell Canoe Works

ORC Industries, a non-profit founded in 1966 that provides employment opportunities and social services to people with disabilities, has agreed to acquire Bell Canoe Works for an undisclosed sum. Ted Bell, founder and president of Bell Canoe, told SNEWS® that he will be staying ...read more