Salomon: On the Way Out?
Skate maker may leave inline market
By Robert "Just the Factoids" Burnson
(posted Friday, May 12, 2006)
Salomon's new owner is considering an exit from the inline skate market but has yet to reach a final decision, a company official said today.
Salomon began its retreat from the inline market last year when it announced it would abandon the slumping U.S. market.
At the time, the French-based company insisted it was still committed to the inline category and would reevaluate its options in the U.S. market on a yearly basis.
But reports have been filtering out of Salomon headquarters in Annecy recently that its ILS (inline) division is on the way out.
But Michael Chiasson, inline and nordic product manager for Salomon North America, says no decision has been reached.
"It's no secret that our new owners are reviewing the role that ILS has within Salomon's portfolio and activities," he said in an email from company headquarters in France.
"(But) at this time, there is no change in direction with respect to Salomon's global ILS strategy, which is to offer a full product range in those countries where business continues to be healthy and to maintain a continued holding pattern everywhere else, including the USA."
Recent sales reports may be cause for optimism, Chiasson said. "Our new product line is doing quite well in Europe, so there is some strong momentum to build on."
The company is expected to announce a decision about inline this summer.
The company's new owner, Finnish sports conglomerate Amer, has reportably lost patience with the inline market, which has slumped in the United States and Europe in recent years.
World Cup Headache?
Christophe Audoire, race director of the World Inline Cup, says the word in France is that Amer wants to dump inline, even though they have reportedly sold 300,000 pairs of skates this year.
"I'm not so sure they will be back next year," he said.
Salomon's exit from the field would be bad news for the World Cup. The company has been a staunch supporter of the race series and has sponsored one of the top teams.
Finnish-based Amer bought Salomon last year for $628 million (US). Before that, it was owned briefly by sports giant Adidas, which was eager to unload it after several quarters of falling profits.
"Our key objective in 2006 is to pave the way for improving the profitability of Salomon," Amer president Roger Talermo said in a recent company report.
Amer recently announced a 3-year "turnaround initiative" for Salomon.
Bad Time to Leave?
Ironically, just as Amer is considering dumping inline, Adidas may be re-embracing it.
One of its new acquisitions, Reebok, has started showing U.S. distributors prototypes of new inline skates.
Whether the skates will ever be released will probably depend on the skate market.
And just how is the market doing this year?
Early reports are that it is very hot, but skate makers say they won't be ready to open the champagne until they see a few more months of good sales.
More Industry News:
• What Does Salomon's Sale Mean to the Inline Industry? (Go to story)
• Salomon To Abandon U.S. Inline Skate Market in 2006 (Go to story)
• Growing skaters one kid at a time (Go to story)
• Inline Skating gains in Eastern Europe (Go to story)
• Austin gets new inline training program (Go to story)
• Kids still love to skate (Go to story)
• Skate sales fall, but not by much (Go to story)
• USOC may find way to help roller sports (Go to story)
(copyright 2006: Robert Burnson)