Closing the Schoffel North American subsidiary just means a return to
the company's motto, "Less is more," company manager Peter SchÃ¶ffel
The company's goal is ultimately to become a leader in Europe --
something that is possible more quickly now that European borders are
falling and the countries' currencies are one in the Euro, SchÃ¶ffel
To more quickly accomplish that goal, however, the company had to focus
its resources in Europe. Although it was indeed successful in the
United States, the company realized that to become a brand leader here
would have required a much larger infusion of capital, SchÃ¶ffel said.
"We didn't see a chance to become one of the top 3 companies in the
next few years in our categories," he said. "This would have required a
higher investment, and we preferred to use that in the European market."
(Ed. note: SchÃ¶ffel -- with the two-dotted "umlaut" over the "o" -- is
the true spelling of the name of the German family that founded the
company in 1804 and the name of the company in Europe. A descendant of
the founding family, Peter still runs the company with his father
Hubert, who moved the small clothing line to a name brand in 1980 when
he jumped onboard with the then-new membrane, Gore-Tex.)
Already, the company is a commanding player in Germany, Austria, and
Switzerland, but its goal is to become a leader all across Europe,
SchÃ¶ffel told SNEWSÂ® from his office in SchwabmÃ¼nchen, a picturesque
tiny town east of Munich and south of Augsburg. He says if the company
can succeed at its goal in the next five years, it will nearly double
its turnover. And it wants to do all this while remaining a privately
held, family-run operation. Already, the company has posted an average
annual growth of 16 percent in the last decade, he said.
"Brands can only have a greater power worldwide if they play a relevant
role in their respective niche," SchÃ¶ffel said. "The No. 7 brand will
fall victim. We recognized that danger in the U.S. market for our own
brand. On the other hand, we know we have the clear opportunity to take
over a leading position in Europe."
Closing the subsidiary here may not mean a disappearance from U.S.
"We want to emphasis that we will continue to work with several large,
key American retailers, exporting directly to them," SchÃ¶ffel said.
That may include Sturtevants of Sun Valley, in Ketchum, Idaho, since
Rob Santa there is partly responsible for bringing Schoffel to the U.S.
market in 1991 after he first saw the line at ispo in 1986 in Munich.
Santa directly imported Schoffel for several years after that.
"Our retail success with the product and direct relationship with the
Schoffel family was the basis upon which Schoffel North America was
launched," Santa told SNEWSÂ®. He was one partner in the national
distributor-agent that began in 1991. In 1998, the agency was converted
to a subsidiary, he said, because "it became evident that to continue
growing the brand in this country, the parent company would have to
make substantial additional capital investment, as well as significant
logistical and product line modifications, beyond what the American
partners might be willing or able to do."
"It's disappointing that Schoffel is discontinuing after a decade of
brand-building efforts," Santa said, "but I would like to think it will
be logistically feasible to import it directly for some of our loyal