Franz Völkl and Hannes Marker probably had other things in mind when they sold their snowsports companies. In recent years, these famous brands and ISPO exhibitors have been sold from one corporation to another. Each new owner has been larger than the last and has commanded a larger portfolio of brands than the group they bought them from.
The good news is: The new owner, Newell Rubbermaid, a large U.S. conglomerate of consumer goods brands is not put off by complex products sold in small volumes as is the case with wintersports items. Völkl and Marker have been bought in a big package along with more than 50 (!) other sports brands. In their new family of assets, they will have to compete with products marketed in large volumes and with better margins, such as baby bottles, cleaning supplies and BBQ equipment.
The new owners are apparently not scared of wintersports with its rather complicated products and structural challenges such as slipping retail prices and melting glaciers. This is not necessarily typical for corporations like Newell Rubbermaid, which generally only think in terms of big volumes.
As we all know, others have failed when they tried to market skis and snowboards. Take, for example, Adidas, which had its own problems with its Salomon subsidiary. The same goes for Quiksilver. For a while, the apparel boardsports marketer complicated its life with Rossignol, as if things weren’t hard enough in the first place. In both cases, the respective managements of these apparel and footwear brands lacked an understanding of the complexity of hardgoods.
Jarden is a big box with lots of small parts. Wintersports manufacturers such as Dalbello, K2, Marker and Völkl number among the larger entities in the conglomerate. Other brands such as Rawlings (baseball), Shakespeare (fishing) and Zoot (triathlon) serve a vast variety of sports. It’s a large hodgepodge of smaller and bigger vendors specialized in very different kinds of sports. Diversification at its best.
But what about the synergies? They can only be found in small doses, perhaps mainly in wintersports equipment. For the rest, synergies in R&D, marketing and sales are merely inexistent.
Jarden’s new owners have already announced that they intend to put all business units under scrutiny and that they will take their time to do it. It should be clear to everyone that a family of more than 50 sports brands makes sense only to a certain extent. Adidas’s sale of Salomon to Amer Sports, the owner of Atomic, showed at the time: Size is not everything. More importantly, those who intend to push a brand have to be good at what they are doing.