Nikwax contacted SNEWSÂ® earlier this week to alert us that the company was informing its dealer base about possible unauthorized distribution of Nikwax products.
Nikwax N.A. President Chas Fisher told us the official notification was triggered because a recent return generated red flags regarding the authenticity of the product.
Fisher did confirm that he was aware, as were we, that a Nikwax competitor, Axis Outdoor, distributor of Grangers, had been offering to buy up remaining Nikwax inventory from retailers and replacing it with Grangers product.
However, Fisher denied that the notification from Nikwax to dealers was in any way a response to Axis.
Naturally, we were a bit curious as to the disposition of the Nikwax products that Axis had been acquiring. In the course of our digging, we received direct confirmation that Axis representatives had approached several retailers -- albeit out of the mainstream outdoor distribution channels -- about purchasing Nikwax inventory from Axis.
We contacted Mike Curtis, general manager of Axis, who confirmed that Axis had purchased Nikwax product from retailers and replaced the product on retailer shelves with Grangers. Curtis also confirmed that Axis had approached a few retailers about purchasing the product, but that no product had been sold as of July 8.
"We are only purchasing Nikwax product from select retailers who have indicated that they would be interested in carrying Grangers, but could not do so while they still had Nikwax stock to sell," Curtis told SNEWSÂ®.
"All we are doing is speeding up the process in helping the retailer make a change," said Curtis. He pointed out that Axis was by no means singling out Nikwax as his company was also buying old Grangers product from retailers, to help current dealers replace aged inventory from the former Grangers distributor with new product Axis is now selling.
During the course of our interview, Curtis told us that all of the Nikwax inventory his company had acquired from retailers would now be donated to Big City Mountaineers, rather than Axis continuing efforts to sell the product at retail.
"A very classy act," Fisher told us when notified.
SNEWSÂ® View: We began hearing from retailers weeks ago who emailed us about feeling a bit put off after being approached by Axis to allow the company to purchase their Nikwax stock and replace it with Grangers. Certainly nothing wrong with that practice, although there are those who will certainly debate the practice as being nothing more than buying retailer loyalty with dollars, rather than a better product. Whatever -- we feel both products are good.
What raised our collective editorial eyebrows was the idea that Axis would begin trying to sell the Nikwax it had acquired, to dealers, at a discount, when the company was no longer an authorized distributor of Nikwax. For the record, the only authorized dealers of Nikwax product currently are Adventure 16, Liberty and Peregrine. Doubtless those three would take a dim view of Axis competing with them.
We have to believe that Curtis certainly meant no ill will when his company tried to sell the Nikwax inventory Axis had acquired as a means to minimize expenses. And we also commend Curtis for quickly moving to donate the product to Big City Mountaineers. It was the right thing to do and will help a good cause. And echoing Fisher, it was a very classy act indeed.
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