While we were away at OR: Vibram changes global CEO; Lafuma adds new co-owner, manager; and Black Diamond reveals Pieps financials

While Outdoor Retailer Winter Market dominated industry headlines last week, there were several significant news items from beyond Salt Lake City. SNEWS gets you caught up.
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While Outdoor Retailer Winter Market dominated the industry’s headlines last week, there were several significant news items coming from places beyond Salt Lake City.

Vibram changes global CEO
Italy-based footwear and technology brand Vibram announced Antonio Dus as its new global CEO, replacing Marco Bramani, who resigned from the position after 25 years leading the company.

Bramani will continue as global president and chairman of the board of Vibram, focusing on creative development for the brand.

It was the second significant leadership shift in six months for the Italian brand, which also made a change in its U.S. CEO position with Mike Gionfriddo replacing Tony Post in July 2012. Post had been with Vibram for 11 years and went on to found his own footwear company, Topo Athletic, which debuted at Winter Market.

The shakeup on both sides of the pond suggests likely growing pains due to the rapid rise of Vibram FiveFingers, with which both Bramani and Post were deeply involved. While the barefoot boom greatly benefited Vibram these past few years, the latest retail sales data suggests the trend is weakening.

“This [most recent] decision has been taken with the objective of accelerating the development of the brand especially with regard to innovation and high performance products,” Vibram officials said in a statement last week.

“We are confident that Antonio will bring a new enthusiasm to this position, especially in the North American market where he has solid experience and expertise,” Bramani said.

Tune into SNEWS Friday for our interview with the new Vibram Global CEO.

Lafuma adds new co-owner, manager

French outdoor company Lafuma Group — parent to its namesake, Millet and Eider brands — also announced changes in leadership last week, along with adding a new co-owner.

Lafuma General Manager Philippe Joffard and his family sold their 15.2 percent stake in Lafuma Group to Switzerland-based Calida Group for an undisclosed amount. In addition, Joffard resigned his position as general manager of Lafuma after 28 years, making way for Felix Sulzberger of the Calida to take over the position.

Lafuma’s board of directors also announced that the company would increase the number of its shares by 50 percent to raise capital to grow the brand. Within that offering, Calida has the option to increase its share of the company up to 29 percent.

Lafuma Group had been on the sale block, revealing late last year that a previous deal to sell itself to South Korean conglomerate E-Land fell through.

Black Diamond reveals Pieps financials
In one of those obscure public financial filings that few people ever look at, Black Diamond Inc. revealed financial details of its recently acquired winter safety brand Pieps.

The filing shows that Pieps pulled in about EUR 6 million ($8.1 million) in sales for its latest fiscal year, ended March 31, 2012. Pieps’ net profit for the year came in at EUR 379,000 ($511,040). For those interested in perusing the balance sheet of a specialty winter safety brand, you can download the rest of the company’s financial data here.

Black Diamond Inc. purchased Pieps for EUR 7.9 million ($10.3 million) in October 2012. There’s an additional EUR 2 million ($2.6 million) incentive on top of the purchase price that Black Diamond will pay, if Pieps meets “aggressive sale numbers” during the next three years, and Black Diamond assumed about EUR 2.1 million ($2.7 million) of Pieps' debt.

--David Clucas

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