Icebreaker Announces Changes to Employee Flock

Icebreaker, the New Zealand company that pioneered the outdoor merino wool apparel category, announces numerous changes and additions to its employee flock.

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Lee Weinstein
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Icebreaker Announces Changes to Employee Flock

Wellington, New Zealand (4 August 2009) – Icebreaker, the New Zealand company that pioneered the outdoor merino wool apparel category, today announced several changes to its employee flock:

• Deb Boswell will become Director of Marketing - North America overseeing marketing teams in the US and Canada, including key account planning and implementing global campaigns in both markets. Boswell has been US Marketing Manager for Icebreaker since 2006. Before joining Icebreaker, Boswell founded and served as a company director and account director at the Wellington based Chilli Marketing, establishing a New York subsidiary, managing the agency's daily operations and overseeing the company's short- and long-term business development. She worked on retail and apparel accounts, leading marketing projects for New Zealand designers and apparel manufacturers, including an up-and-coming performance apparel manufacturer called Icebreaker. Boswell earned her Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing Management with first class honors at the University of Otago in New Zealand. She will report to Icebreaker North American President Russ Hopcus and Vice President of Global Marketing Rosanne Palmisano.

• Kent Hawkins is being named Canadian Marketing Manager, succeeding Frith Campbell who is returning to New Zealand. Kent brings to the role an in-depth knowledge of the Canadian market and has developed marketing programs for companies such as Bauer Nike Hockey, Columbia Outerwear, Rogers, Proctor and Gamble, Labatt Breweries, Globe and Mail, Pepsi, Microsoft, and more. He has a master's degree in environmental design, a Bachelor of Commerce and is a professional ski guide.

• Steve Gehlen has been named General Manager – Global E-Commerce, based in Portland, Oregon USA, reporting to Tony Balfour, General Manager - Markets. The role has been created to drive Icebreaker's rapidly emerging e-commerce opportunity an online community. The company recently began a blog at and new forays into social media. Gehlan comes from an e-commerce and Internet business building background launching the original site, leading's internet video business, and directing the internet at Oregon Health and Science University. He most recently launched his own successful Internet business. Gehlan reports to Balfour and Palmisano.

• Michelle Mitchell and Rosie Futschek are rejoining the company to lead its Global Kids business. Mitchell is taking up the newly created role of General Manager – Kids, and Rosie is Product Line Manager Kids. This new Kids business unit has been created to develop the Icebreaker Kids brand and accelerate the huge opportunity the company sees to introduce the joys of merino to youngsters.

Mitchell, who will report to Balfour, worked for Icebreaker in 1996, bravely leaving behind her career in law to sell a completely unknown brand of merino clothing called Icebreaker. Over the years she led various areas of the Icebreaker business including the Marketing department, the Product Design and Development team, New Zealand, Australia, HR, IP, Canada, E-commerce and Retail. She was at Icebreaker for 11 years before leaving to move to Wanaka in 2007.

Futschek, who reports to Mitchell, started with Icebreaker in 2003 after managing Icebreaker retailer “Racers Edge” in Wanaka. She spent five years in the role of South Island Account Manager, and she was a key player in many of the early Icebreaker trade shows. Now, both with families and a long-standing global perspective, they are ideally suited to take Icebreaker Kids to the next stage.

• Shane Woonton will become Global Sales Operations Manager reporting to Balfour. He will lead several key initiatives including global demand planning, pricing strategy and various sales and marketing initiatives. Woonton has worked extensively in the outdoor industry (both wholesale and retail) including Merchandise Manager for Outdoor Performance Pty Ltd., which manages the Columbia, Mountain Hardwear and Montrail brands in Australia and NZ, as well as Rebel Sports and Paddy Pallin in Australia. An outdoor enthusiast, Shane is a product geek and understands the wholesale and retail business models intimately.

Last month, Icebreaker introduced its Spring/Summer 2010 line of high performance clothing. Among the highlights are new travel garments and socks for running and cycling with designs inspired by the Australian Outback. Butterflies and native New Zealand cabbage trees – both found on sheep stations - adorn some of the new designs. More info:

About Icebreaker
Launched in 1994, Icebreaker was the first company in the world to develop a merino fiber layering system for the outdoors. It was also the first outdoor apparel company in the world to source merino directly from growers, a system it began in 1997. There are now 10 distinct pure merino fabrics in the Icebreaker system, covering underwear, mid layer, and outerwear.

Icebreaker is sold in more than 2,000 stores in 24 countries throughout Europe, Asia, Australasia and North America. Based in Wellington, New Zealand, Icebreaker uses only pure merino hand-picked from 120 high country stations in the country's Southern Alps to create edgy outdoor clothing that combines nature's work with human technology and design. The company is committed to sustainability, ethical manufacturing and animal welfare. In 2008 the company launched “Icebreaker Baacode,” a pioneering supply chain transparency and traceability program. Each Icebreaker includes a unique Baacode, which enables customers to trace the garment online from rearing the sheep through to each stage of the supply chain process.