Outdoor: Did you hear?...

TNF partners with German guides, Vibram goes high fashion, CGPR launches Quickfire, Type 20 names general manager, DuPont BrandNew Awards, EMS closes one and opens another, Adirondack Backcountry Ski Festival, Pacific Cycle acquires InSTEP, Cheap Holds acquires Crater Holds...
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>> According to Outdoor i, the UK trade newsletter, The North Face has partnered with the Association of German Mountain and Ski Guides (VDBS e.V). The arrangement involves supplying the instructor team as well as mountain and ski guides of the VDBS, using products from TNF's Summit series.

>> Vibram, long respected for its leadership role in developing high performance soles for outdoor, recreation and work footwear, has decided to chase the fashion market. According to a statement from the company, "Vibram has elevated the humble beach flip-flop to high-style status by manufacturing a new women's mule silhouette with a stylish kitten heel for Sigerson Morrison, a fast-growing women's fashion accessories brand based in New York City." The flip-flop will retail for, get this, $85. SNEWS View: Wow. We keep staring at the photo to the right (you won't see the photo if you're reading this in the News Digest) and thinking several things. First, which design genius decided that putting a spike heel, err, we're sorry, kitten heel on a flip-flop was a good idea? Second, if the flip-flop is rigid enough to support a body with the new high heel design, it isn't really a flip-flop anymore, is it? Unless, of course, the company is clinging to the notion of folks flipping and flopping all over while trying to actually walk in the darn things. Finally, we're exceedingly grateful that the fashion beat is not one we have to cover with any regularity.

>> CGPR has announced the launch of CGPR Quickfire, a consulting division that will offer customized and cost-effective PR and communications training and seminars. "In tough economic times, public relations is often among the first services to be downsized," Chris Goddard, president of CGPR told SNEWS. "CGPR Quickfire provides companies the flexibility of stretching their marketing budgets by relying upon existing in-house resources. We can provide a one-time training session or regular refresher courses to help marketing executives with tight budgets maintain the continuity of their external communications to trade and consumer audiences." Specific training programs include: basic PR writing, proper press kit development, media list creation, media relations skills, including pitching the media, crisis management, planning and implementing of special events, and long-term strategy planning.CGPR recently completed a crisis management seminar in Boston for executives of Doppelmayr-CTEC and Leitner-Poma, the two largest lift manufacturers in the world. For more information, go to www.cgprpublicrelations.com or email Chris Goddard at chris@cgprpublicrelations.com

>> Type 20 Inc. has named a new general manager, David McCormick. McCormick’s responsibilities will include overseeing the sales, marketing and distribution of both the Briko and Arnette brands in the United States and Canada. The company also announced the hiring of Jennifer Jones as the company's new art director. Jones holds a degree in graphic design from California State University at Fresno.

>> Got an innovative product? Are you a new company? DuPont and ispo are looking for entrepreneurial start-up companies for the summer ispo DuPont BrandNew Awards. The competition is designed for new companies in sports (including outdoor), sporting goods, and fashion. At the winter 2003 ispo show, 40 finalists were given free exhibit space to the international audience. "We kicked more business opportunity than we could handle in those four days. We were rocking and talking business non-stop," said Richard Myerscough, president of U.S.-based Ocean Rodeo, which won the DuPont Safety Award. To qualify for entry into the BrandNew Awards, the brand or company must be less than 4 years old; the product, brand or sport must be "new and innovative;" and the brand or company must not have previously exhibited at ispo. The registration deadline is April 4. Call +49 89 944 196-0, email info@ispo-brandnew.com, or go to www.ispo-brandnew.com for information and forms.

>> EMS will be closing its Colorado Springs, Colo., store on April 20. Though EMS has a company policy of not talking to the press, insiders tell SNEWS that the store was missing its numbers in a competitive retail environment that includes a strong REI presence as well as several other specialty outdoor stores. It is no secret to those watching EMS closely that the company has been on an aggressive path to improve operating margins, including the shutting down of underperforming store locations. The company has also been exploring new locations and, just last week, opened a store in Acton, Mass. Insiders also tell SNEWS that while EMS' sales have been on par with the rest of the industry -- flat to down -- the company's margins have improved and as a result, so has the company's profitability. No small feat in a challenging retail climate.

>> The first annual Adirondack Backcountry Ski Festival held Feb. 28 to March 2 in Keene Valley, N.Y., raised more than $1,000 to benefit the NYSEF Nordic Youth Ski Racing Program and the Adirondack Ski Touring Council. The event, cosponsored by PrimaLoft and Garmont, featured educational clinics the organizers had hoped would be 65 percent full. Instead, attendance at each registered 95 percent capacity. Event organizers are already looking to expand participation and reach for next year.

>> Pacific Cycle, makers of Schwinn, GT and Mongoose bikes, is expanding its portfolio with the recent acquisition of InSTEP LLC, a marketer and distributor of jogging strollers and bicycle trailers. According to company officials, Pacific Cycle had been expanding its brands into inline skates, skateboards and recreational clothing and that purchasing InSTEP will allow the company to continue its expansion into consumer recreation and fitness. InSTEP offers Pacific Cycle numerous new categories including jogging and convenience strollers, infant frame carriers, bicycle trailers, watercraft carriers and even snowshoes. InSTEP's president, Paul Kahmann, will stay on in a consultant role, while InSTEP's vice president of sales and marketing, Tom Schultz, will become Pacific's vice president heading InSTEP. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

>> Don Powell has left Salomon, making the move to Colorado to be closer to family. Powell, an avid Nordic skier when he's not in a bike saddle, tells SNEWS, "It was great to have arrived just before the second largest blizzard of the century." Those who wish to stay in touch with Don may reach him by email at: gulpone@msn.com

>> Cheap Holds, Inc. has acquired Crater Holds and Climbing Wall Supply. As a result of the acquisition, Crater Holds manufacturing will relocate to Central Michigan, online ordering will become available, processing times will be greatly reduced, and a stronger material will be used in production, SNEWS has been told. Despite the relocation, the two companies will continue to operate separately in all aspects including marketing and manufacturing. Cheap Holds will continue to provide low-priced holds made with a semi-rigid urethane. Crater will feature professionally shaped models made with a semi-flexible urethane. While urethane holds are more expensive to produce, the material is safer for the environment, safer for manufacturing staff and yields the strongest, most durable climbing holds. Production is temporarily on hold while new materials and methods are being tested. The new website -- www.craterholds.com -- and grand re-opening of Crater Holds is slated for May 1.

>> Mountainsmith has promoted Andy Anderson to director of sales for the United States. In his new position, Anderson will be in charge of sales efforts between specialty retailers and the company's independent sales force. Anderson will also manage Mountainsmith's promotional accounts. In the Southeast, David Ripley and Greg Fischer, who head up the Rep First Agency, take over as regional sales representatives overseeing company sales and marketing efforts in Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. In related news, Gail Ross has been hired as Mountainsmith's director of development and will be responsible for design development, raw materials review and production timelines. Brian Moran has been promoted to director of operations. Daria McKay will move into a new position as pro-sales coordinator. Sue Edmiston and Katie Engelking assume the customer service responsibilities handled formerly by Moran and McKay.

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