Wolverine To Handle Merrell Distribution in Europe

Merrell will now directly handle its business in most European countries after its growth began to take too many resources for one distributor, and another exited the footwear business.
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Merrell will now directly handle its business in most European
countries after its growth began to take too many resources for one
distributor, and another exited the footwear business.

The newly founded Merrell Europe BV will work with its retail partners
without intermediary in France, Germany, Austria, Spain, Holland,
Belgium, Liechtenstein, and the United Kingdom.

"Because of our direct relationship with our accounts and the resources
we can bring to bear, we are in a position to accelerate our growth in
these markets beyond that which we have been experiencing," Jacques
Lavertue, president of Merrell, told SNEWS®. "We are also in a better
position to service our accounts from a merchandising and customer
service point of view as we have now concentrated our inventories into
one efficient location."

The Overland Group of Britain, which also distributes Cat Footwear, had
been responsible for Merrell in France, Germany, Austria, and Spain.
Said Lavertue, "Overland had recently launched Cat apparel in these
same markets. Given the success of the Merrell Brand in these markets
and the launch of the apparel business, it was mutually agreed to that
it would be better for all involved if Merrell repatriated its business
given the amount of resources Merrell's growth was consuming. To that
end we recently finalized our agreement with them, have hired all key
staff and salespeople they had working on the Merrell brand."

In the Benelux countries (Holland, Belgium and Liechtenstein),
Merrell's distributor there decided to exit the footwear business and
concentrate on other unrelated businesses it manages, Lavertue said.
"Therefore we negotiated an agreement and basically hired their staff
to continue managing the Merrell business in this territory."

In the United Kingdom, Merrell had a wholly owned subsidiary since
1989. This was taken over in the Wolverine Purchase in 1997 and so no
change occurred there.

The company now has offices in Bristol, England, and Amsterdam,
Holland; and showrooms in Bristol, London, Amsterdam, and Paris, all of
which report to Lavertue. Merrell will participate in all major
European trades shows including OutDoor Friedrichshafen, ispo, COLA,
and GDS.

"As to other countries in Europe and other parts of the world,"
Lavertue said, "they willcontinue being handled by their respective
distributors. You should note that we have strong distribution in every
sector of the world including Asia/Pacific, Latin America and Northern
Africa."

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