Outdoor: Did you hear?...

SoCal fires keep area companies on alert, Columbia reports record earnings, VF sales inch up 3Q, Altrec mails first Amazon.com catalog, Toko products help up in customs, K2 sales up, Access Fund honors Petzl, Brent Bishop receives Lowell Thomas award, and much more....
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>> A note about the devastating Southern California fires: Our friends in companies and stores throughout the region tell us that the fires all around them have so far meant not much more than smoke and ash everywhere … and some scary moments for friends and family nearby. One Adventure 16 employee had a house in the middle of the fire, but it was left untouched. Even in Orange County, we hear the sun looks red, backyards are covered with ash, and even the insides of homes smell smoky. Captain Steve Barker and Bethany Love of Eagle Creek are themselves on the front lines fighting the fires in Valley Center as we write this. Chief Nona Barker is back at her station with one unit covering the home front in case a fire breaks out in the Elfin Forest/Harmony Grove district. Calls are already coming in from companies around the country wondering what, if anything, they can do to help. We would recommend getting in touch with Adventure 16's John Mead at jdmead@adventure16.com. He is getting in touch with local disaster agencies, shelters and more to find out what they need, and will help to coordinate requests for donations and gear. Our prayers and thoughts go out to all in and around the hot zone.

>> Columbia Sportswear (Nasdaq: COLM) continues to dazzle investors and market analysts by reporting record 3Q net income results up a record 11.8 percent to $63.6 million. Overall 3Q sales results were up 12.6 percent globally to $373.4 million. Excluding changes in currency rates, Canadian sales grew 5.7 percent, European sales were up 21.8 percent, and other international sales were up 24.3 percent. The company is very pleased with its spring 2004 backlog as it is up 26.7 percent to $292.5 million. Mountain Hardwear preseason sales are accounting for $11.4 million of that total. In breaking down sales by category, outerwear sales increased 3.2 percent to $220.9 million, sportswear sales climbed 36.7 percent to $86 million, footwear sales were up 21.9 percent to $46.2 million, and accessories were up 13.2 percent to $18.9 million. Mountain Hardwear reported sales of $13 million for Q3. The new category for Columbia, as a result of adding Mountain Hardwear, is equipment sales consisting of tents and sleeping bags, which posted sales of $1.4 million. Columbia is now projecting Q4 revenue growth of 14 percent to 16 percent. For more information about Columbia's financial reports, as well as to view stock prices updated every 15 minutes, visit the SNEWS Stock Market Updates. Click on: www.snewsnet.com/cgi-bin/snews/stock_report.html.

>> VF Corp.'s (NYSE: VFC) net sales inched up 3 percent for Q3 compared with the same period last year -- $1,435.4 million compared to $1,400.4 million in 2002. Company CEO Mackey McDonald reported that stronger September sales for the company overall, combined with higher than expected performance from recently acquired Nautica, and the performance of the Outdoor Coalition (Jansport, The North Face and Eastpak) helped VF realize the slight increase. Sales for the Outdoor Coalition helped the team once again be the best performing sector for VF's business groups. Sales were up 15 percent excluding changes in currency rates, with TNF realizing double-digit sales increases. MacDonald reported that more than half of TNF's sales were being realized by new product launches, and that pre-bookings were 23 percent ahead of last year. Back to school sales, which affect Jansport, were slower than expected, but began to rebound in September. Shoulder and swing bag sales lead the charge. Looking more closely at TNF, the company's stores are expected to be up 7.5 percent for the year with 10 percent of TNF's overall sales numbers represented in company store sales. A5 was specifically called out as performing very well across both the United States and Europe with sales up nearly 100 percent. SNEWS did ask TNF President Mike Egeck about the recent release of S03 and F03 closeouts lists to retailers, containing 178,571 product items and whether that would affect performance. Egeck told us that the list represents only 3 percent of the company's total business and is slightly larger than in the past since the company has closed 12 outlet stores. TNF has been asked by its retailers, Egeck said, to release closeouts to them first, which the company is now doing. VF is now projecting Q4 revenue growth of 8 percent. For more information about VF's financial reports, as well as to view stock prices updated every 15 minutes, visit the SNEWS Stock Market Updates. Click on: www.snewsnet.com/cgi-bin/snews/stock_report.html.

>> On the heels of launching a strategic alliance and new outdoor storefront in September with Amazon.com (www.amazon.com/altrec), Altrec mailed the online retailer's first print catalog on Oct. 20 to a nationwide audience culled from the company's in-house customer list. The catalog titled "Epic, Fall 03-Winter 04" was produced in-house. According to CEO Mike Morford, the new 30-page outdoor gear, apparel and seasonal item catalog is designed to equip and inspire people to get outside and play more. It is the first of two Altrec.com catalogs slated for national distribution this holiday and winter season. The company hopes the catalog will stimulate additional online sales and new phone order sales by reinforcing Altrec.com's brand awareness with key customers while giving them a second shopping channel option. Catalog sales are part of Altrec.com's broader marketing initiatives that include both print and online advertising.

>> Toko, a part of the Mammut family of products, and distributed here in the United States by Climb High, which is also owned by Mammut, experienced some adventures at U.S. customs recently. Apparently, the entire Toko wax and tool shipment got held up in customs by a zealous inspector due to some wax aprons that had improper documentation. Although these aprons accounted for some .03 percent of the value of the shipment, the entire shipment suffered for it. Three weeks later, when the shipment was finally released, it arrived on the same day as all of the Toko gloves and poles, as well as a large Mammut shipment. Needless to say, it's been a busy last month at the Climb High warehouse in Shelburne, Vt. In related news, The Toko Tech Manual for 2003 is out and may be downloaded directly by clicking on www.tokous.com/infocenter.htm.

>> K2 Inc. (NYSE: KTO) has reported that net sales for 3Q were up 12.1 percent to $168 million from $149.8 million in the 2002 third quarter. In a press release, Richard Heckmann, chairman and CEO, said, "Our solid results for the quarter were driven by high single-digit sales increases in alpine skis, continued double-digit growth in our Ride snowboard business, which we believe is the fastest growing brand in the industry, and significant gains in our Planet Earth skate shoe division. In addition, our gross margin for the quarter increased 1 percentage point from the comparable 2002 period due to continuing benefits of off-shore manufacturing and a lower incidence of closeout sales." The K2 sports group, which includes skis, snowboards, in-line skates and bikes, generated net sales of $71.3 million in the third quarter, up 2 percent from the same period in 2002. Net sales for the nine-month period were $169.4 million, up 5.9 percent from the previous year. In a seasonally slow quarter, Shakespeare had worldwide fishing tackle sales of $24.2 million for the third quarter, down 3.9 percent from the 2002 period, and net sales for the nine months ended Sept. 30, 2003, were $109.3 million, down 2.6 percent from the 2002 period. Lower sales were principally a result of unfavorable weather, the company reports. In a seasonally slow quarter, Stearns' sales for the third quarter were $18.4 million, down 10 percent from 2002, and sales for the nine month period ended Sept. 30, 2003, were $74 million, up 4.5 percent from the comparable year period. Third quarter sales in 2003 were down principally due to reduced military sales in 2003 compared to 2002. Margins were down slightly due to lower sales volumes and a less-favorable product mix. For more information about K2's financial reports, as well as to view stock prices updated every 15 minutes, visit the SNEWS Stock Market Updates. Click on: www.snewsnet.com/cgi-bin/snews/stock_report.html.

>> The Access Fund has honored Petzl with the 2003 Sharp End award, granted annually for outstanding leadership. The Access Fund gave the award to Petzl America in recognition of "the company's commitment to continuing support, outreach, and education of important access issues facing climbing environments nationwide."

>> Earlier this year, owner and founder of Bite Footwear Dale Bathum put out a friendly challenge to beat his marathon time of 3:37:28 -- the catch being you had to do it in Bite's running sandals. Washington-state resident Tony Phillippi is the first to win the "Beat the Founder" challenge: Phillippi's Skagit Flats marathon time of 3:20:27 bested Bathum's time by 17 minutes. Phillippi ran the marathon in Bite's Xtension OS sandals with Superfeet inserts and gel heel cups, placing 11th overall and fifth in his division (Men 40-49). The friendly competition is still open. To take Bathum's challenge, submit your marathon (less than 3:37:28) or half marathon time (less than 1:38:56), including the name and location of the race, a link to the race results, a photo (or 300 dpi JPEG image) of yourself running in Bite's Xtensions, and your shoe size to: todd@biteshoes.com. If your time beats Dale's, you will be able to choose a free pair of Bite shoes (up to an $80 value).

>> Jansport has been presented with the Continental Divide Trail Alliance's Corporate Award. The annual award recognizes a company that has committed significant time and resources to the completion and protection of the CDT. Harv Erickson, chief financial officer and board member of the CDTA, accepted the award during the fifth biannual national conference of the Continental Divide Trail Alliance (CDTA), sponsored by REI and the National Forest Foundation.

>> UNITED KINGDOM -- VisitBritain has launched Outdoor England, a GBP 250,000 (USD $423,575) campaign to encourage the British people to enjoy the great outdoors this winter. Running in association with Best Western hotels, the new campaign is the result of VisitBritain research, which found 81 percent of holidays taken in England involved some form of outdoor activity. The campaign will center around a free guide on outdoor activities all over England which can be enjoyed whatever the weather. The brochure will be distributed direct to the public by VisitBritain. Famous faces, including Sir Chris Bonnington, Judith Chalmers, Michael Palin, David Bellamy and Frankie Dettori, have each endorsed their favorite region of England. Best Western has created a companion program titled "Breaks to Energize, Revitalize and Refresh" by teaming a variety of outdoor activities with a choice of over 320 hotels throughout Britain.

>> SWITZERLAND -- Prior to the Outdoor 2003 trade show in Friedrichshafen, Mammut began promoting the company's new single rope, the Revelation, as the thinnest single rope on the market and listed the diameter as 9.0 mm. Discrepancies arose between Mammut's in-house measurements and the measuring procedure at the Institute for Conveyor Technology and Logistics (IFT), a testing institute in Stuttgart, Germany. As a result, Mammut has corrected the diameter of the Revelation from 9.0 mm to 9.2 mm. The ropes delivered in the spring of 2004 will therefore be labeled 9.2 mm -- and it's still touted as the thinnest single rope on the market, albeit .2 mm thicker now.

>> Brent Bishop, 37, son of the late legendary climber Barry Bishop, and the first American to follow in his father's footsteps and summit Mount Everest, received the Lowell Thomas Award from The Explorers Club, the international professional exploration society, at an award dinner held Oct. 25 at the United Nations headquarters in New York. The award recognizes explorers who have distinguished themselves in unique and distinct ways. Others who were honored include: Bjørn Heyerdahl, grandson of Thor Heyerdahl, whose Midgard Expedition seeks to learn from those who live in harmony with nature; paleontologist Louise Leakey, granddaughter of Louis and Mary Leakey and daughter of Richard and Maeve Leakey; Peter Hillary, son of Sir Edmund Hillary, who works to improve the lives of Himalayan people and who joined Bishop on the summit of Mount Everest to commemorate their fathers' famous ascents; archaeologist David Stuart, son of Mesoamerica explorers George and Gene Stuart; and Scott Lindgren, who recently undertook the first descent of Tibet's deadly Tsangpo Gorge. Bishop also works as a marketing and design consultant at Moonstone.

>> Peak Exposure is branching out into new public relations directions including the health and wellness, and adventure travel industries. Since August, Peak Exposure founder, Lisa Winston, has been acting as strategic marketing consultant and publicist for the Coghill Foundation, a Colorado-based non-profit whose mission is to promote and support the general health education of the public. Their first project, "The Monster," a book by Peter Kray, is a modern-day fable with a timely message about how to recognize and defeat the personal monsters that may be blocking your path to a healthier, happier life. Winston's business associate Lee Hart has been leading Peak Exposure as the communications strategist for the Adventure Travel Society (ATS), a trade association for adventure travel outfitters. In conjunction with ATS, Hart recently traveled to an international adventure travel exposition in Mexico City and will be a featured speaker at upcoming conferences in Venezuela and New York City.

>> The number of reps for Great Trango Holdings brands has nearly tripled since June 1 as the company closes in on its goal to add more man- and woman-power to its sales efforts. Brian Block and Katy Schoel came on as a team to sell Trango, e-Grips and Stonewear Designs in the Midwest. Duane Daniels, with Outdoor Ed, rejoined the Trango team after a four-year hiatus. Daniels will be handling special markets such as schools, outdoor education programs, and summer camps for Trango and e-Grips. The company has added Nan Hanks in Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama; and Nancy Andrews and Tim Augustinowitcz in New England as Stonewear Designs reps. In addition, Tanya Bevill will be the Stonewear Designs rep in Florida.

>> Inside Communications, publishers of Inside Triathlon, VeloNews and Ski Racing, has named Rick Rundall as its chief operating officer. Rundall will be in charge of day-to-day operations of the company and report to Felix Magowan, chief executive officer. Rundall, a five-year ICI veteran, has previously been senior vice president and director of the company's VeloPress and VeloCatalog book publishing and catalog operations.

>> Julie Oldham, associate publisher and director of advertising for Climbing magazine, is stepping down. Though Oldham was not available for comment, word from insiders is that as a relatively new mom and with a restaurant in town, Oldham felt the extra hours that would be needed by someone in her position to garner ad sales in a very competitive environment was more than she was willing to commit to. While the magazine is determining how Oldham's job responsibilities will be handled, Greg Williams will take over her duties -- Williams has been working closely with Oldham on the sales side for the last two years.

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