Outdoor: Did you hear?...

Malden emerges from Ch. 11 intact, Malcolm Daly speaks at CMC event, industry vets get new knees, U.K. apparel/footwear sales down, Johnson Outdoors reorgs paddlepsorts, Jack Wolfskin debuts ski collection, Bill March Summit of Excellence Award winner, Rick Ridgeway joins Patagonia, plus much more....
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>> Running counter to a growing trend for the U.S. textile industry of late -- going out of business, massive layoffs and moving production oversees -- Malden Mills Industries Inc. announced the company has emerged from bankruptcy protection. Remarkably, the company escaped from Chapter 11 protection without layoffs (1,200 employees still on the payroll, the same number the company went into bankruptcy with 23 months ago), with no plans to move the company (three locations: Lawrence and Methuen, Mass., and Hudson, N.H.), and strong sales growth (from $160 million to $174 million, just under the $180 million level the company once enjoyed). Company spokesman David Costello told SNEWS that several things came into play to help the company reduce its debt load from $170 million to less than $80 million, including creditors agreeing to a conversion of debt to equity and in some cases accepting a reduction in payout. Unfortunately, this announcement means Aaron Feuerstein is out as CEO since he has yet to come up with the necessary funding to retain control of his company. Malden has announced the company is in the final stages of selecting a permanent CEO and hopes to have this process completed before the end of the calendar year. In the interim, acting company CFO and COO David Orlofsky, from Kroll Zolfo Cooper, will continue to manage the day-to-day operations. SNEWS View: Although he has now lost control of his company and his ownership stake has been reduced to 5 percent, we would never bet against Feuerstein, a man who remains an icon for the employees at Malden. Currently, he is negotiating a deal that would involve real estate developers building much-needed housing on part of the Malden properties in exchange for the investment Feuerstein needs to regain control. And while the amount he is supposed to pay is scheduled to increase to $125 million from $92 million, insiders close to the deal told SNEWS the banks and the board are likely to forgive the increase and allow Feuerstein to regain control if he comes up with the original amount. Feuerstein has two years to regain control before creditors can consider selling the mill to another company. The fact that Malden has emerged from bankruptcy is a testament to the company's employees and the grittiness of Feuerstein. With new technologies and a congressionally approved $19.1 million for Polartec garments for the military in 2004, as well as $3 million for continued R&D for electronic textiles, Malden is well positioned to continue the company's growth and resurgence.

>> Malcolm Daly, founder and president of Great Trango Holdings Inc., will be the keynote speaker for the annual dinner of the Colorado Mountain Club's Boulder Group, Nov. 2 at 5:30 p.m. in the Glenn Miller Ballroom of the University of Colorado campus in Boulder. Daly will share his inspiring story of survival when disaster struck in the Alaska Range, ultimately leading to the loss of his right foot. Daly hasn't slowed down and is back climbing, bike riding, kayaking and, as SNEWS will attest having sipped beer from his artificial limb (that's another story), "living large." Advance tickets for CMC members are $25 per person; $35 for the general public. For more information and to purchase tickets, contact the CMC Boulder Group by calling Deb Tewell at 720-304-9572.

>> This Friday, two outdoor industry veterans will undergo reconstructive surgery for trashed knees. Bobbi Bensman (a world-renowned climber and Rockies region sales rep for Montrail, Cloudveil, G3 and Volkl) did her damage while mountain biking near Aspen about a month ago. Clyde Soles (SNEWS' own) denies that tequila was more than a contributing factor to his blown ACL while on a raft trip down the Grand Canyon in May. Complicating Bobbi's surgery is the minor fact that she is six months pregnant! Neither will be skiing this season but you can expect reviews of such fun toys as crutches, knee braces and rehab products.

>> Did you know that as a result of the Outdoor Retailer/OIA partnership, all OIA members save 3 percent on exhibit space fees at OR Summer and Winter Markets. Companies must be current OIA members as of Nov. 1, 2003 to see the savings for Winter Market. According to OIA for a 30-x-40 booth space, the savings is $588 -- more than the average annual member dues that range from $100 to $2500, depending on annual sales. If you are a member, the discount will be reflected on your final exhibit space invoice. Close to 50 percent of the exhibitors at Summer Market didn't join OIA in time to see this savings. Support your bottom-line and your trade association by joining OIA today. For more information, or to join the OIA, contact Kandi King at 303-444-3353 ext 204 or email kking@outdoorindustry.org.

>> United Kingdom -- This from the British trade newsletter Outdoor i: The exceptionally hot weather in August kept shoppers at home, according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), but retailers have strong expectations for September. Only 12 percent of respondents polled by the CBI's monthly retail survey said sales were higher in August than the same period last year, this compares to a rise of 27 percent the previous month. Clothing and footwear stores were the worse hit. However, the CBI report went on to reveal that retailers were optimistic about overall business opportunities for September, which were among the strongest expectations in the past 10 months.

>> Johnson Outdoors (JOI) began phasing in a new organizational structure for the company's paddlesport businesses. The new watercraft structure is based on what the company terms a centers-of-excellence (COE) management model. The COE for marketing and sales for all paddlesport brands is now Ferndale, Wash. As a result of the reorganization, JOI shut down the Miami, Fla.-based, Extrasport manufacturing facility the company acquired when it purchased Extrasport. Oasis Outsourcing was providing production staff at the time of the closing and JOI officials told SNEWS that the 74 affected Oasis employees received 60 days of wages to assist them during a job search. In addition, three JOI management and administrative staff were eliminated and also provided transition support, according to JOI. Production for all Extrasport PFDs is now being outsourced. Rumors that the Carlisle factory was also being shut down is not true, according to JOI.

>> GERMANY -- Jack Wolfskin has introduced a ski and snowsports collection after the company noted skiers wearing its outdoor jackets on the slopes. The new collection includes five women's and four men's jackets, as well as two styles of pants. This is yet another growth step that has allowed the company -- with its now 57 brand stores in Europe -- to show sales this year worldwide of more than 75 million Euros.

>> GERMANY -- A Germany-based website is touting the warmth of down by specializing in and selling all kinds of down products. The e-tailer, www.daunenshop.de, has a large assortment of clothes and sleeping bags made with down from such brands as Canada Goose, Joutsen, Rab, Valandre and Yeti. Included are also non-down items such as technical jackets and wind-protective clothing. The e-tailer has been around nearly five years.

>> Willi Pfisterer, whose name is synonymous with modern mountain rescue in Canada, is the winner of the 2003 Bill March Summit of Excellence Award. Pfisterer will be honored at the 2003 Banff Mountain Film Festival. The 17th annual award is sponsored by One Step Beyond WorldWide in memory of Calgary climber Bill March, an internationally respected mountaineer, author and educator. Pfisterer has made remarkable contributions to the mountain community since he arrived in the Canadian Rockies more than four decades ago. The Austrian native, who first came to Canada and the Laurentian Mountains in 1955 to teach skiing, helped establish the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides, the Canadian Avalanche Association, and the rescue dog program in Canada. Through his insight and vision, park wardens became highly equipped and trained in mountain rescue and rescue response times were reduced from days to hours. Pfisterer is now retired and living west of Jasper. Past recipients of the award include Barry Blanchard (2002), Bob Sandford (2001), Chic Scott (2000), Guy Lacelle (1999), John Martin (1998), Sharon Wood (1997), Tim Auger (1996), Brian Greenwood (1995), Kiwi Gallagher (1994), Roger Vernon (1993), Jon Whyte (1992), Don Forest (1991), Pat Morrow (1990), Hans Gmoser (1989), Jim Davies (1988) and Bruno Engler (1987).

>> SWITZERLAND -- They say that being copied is the greatest flattery, so Mammut of Switzerland should be honored. Apparently, according to the company, counterfeit jackets of its most popular models (Lhotse, Eiger and Logan) in the company's trademark orange and blue are being sold on the streets in Europe. They may look like Mammut clothing, but the work and fabrics are not up to par and the Gore-Tex and the like are not real. Mammut doesn't take responsibility for counterfeits being returned to retailers and suggests that consumers turn to its retailer directory ( www.mammut.ch) to make sure they get the real thing.

>> With the new leadership of Kneissl by a Tyrolean investor group nearly in place, the company is working on its management team. Klaus Brandstaetter (CEO of sister brand DeeLuxe) will work on fine-tuning the team. CFO Harald Wegscheider will work with the team through the end of the year on its transition. Former Kneissl CEO Florian Brunner will leave the company for other endeavors. The entire team, its strategy, goals and 2004/05 collection will be finalized and announced by the winter ispo 2004 show in February.

>> Patagonia has hired Rick Ridgeway as the company's new executive vice president responsible for marketing and environmental initiatives. Ridgeway joins the company's senior management team including Perry Klebahn as executive vice president of sales, Gene Gregg as executive vice president of human resources and legal affairs, and Bob Kelleher as COO and executive vice president of retail. Ridgeway begins his new role January 2004. Patagonia, with sales of $220 million, has donated over $19 million toward grassroots activism since 1985. SNEWS View: Patagonia continues to quietly add big guns to its team, underscoring our belief that the company is very serious about remaining competitive as well as a leading example for environmental responsibility in an increasingly challenging market.

>> SmartWool has hired Rob Mitchell as its new vice president of marketing and products. Mitchell was formerly the head of marketing for Nike ACG, and brings with him over 15 years of management experience with well-known brands like Nike, IMG and Mossimo. Prior to his work with Nike ACG, Mitchell served as president and COO of Trailworks.com. Mitchell told SNEWS shortly after his departure from Nike due to corporate reorganization that he really wanted to stay in the outdoor industry as that fueled his passion. Mitchell, an avid climber and backcountry skier, gets his wish, and SmartWool reels in a great catch.

>> Igloo Vikski Inc., a Quebec-Canada-based, outdoor gear distributor for brands such Fischer and Swix in Canada and Kayland Footwear in North America, has hired NoÈmi Soucy-Girard as the company's new marketing coordinator. Soucy-Girard will concentrate on providing the company's brand managers with marketing support ranging from advertising, promotions, public relations and event planning. In addition, the company has hired Mark Robinson as a sales rep for Kayland Footwear covering the Northern California territory.

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