When the 51-year-old man from Berlin, who started his career at Willy Bogner in Munich, received the job of Chief Executive Officer of the Mammut Sports Group in Conzzeta Holding, his task was clear: Although his predecessor, Rolf Schmid, who was boss of Mammut for over 20 years, left behind many aspects to retain, there are some which should be updates for the modern age.
In an interview with ISPO.com, Oliver Pabst draws up an interim balance.
ISPO.com: Mr. Pabst, you took over the role of CEO at Mammut just under a year ago. It’s time to take stock. What are your interim conclusions?
Oliver Pabst: It has been a very intense time! The job is both demanding and exciting: We have a very strong brand, Mammut has been around since 1862. We are one of the oldest outdoor brands and have a strong team with creative people. I am honored to be able to literally lead these troops every day. We have also got some new strategic plans off the ground.
We are focusing more on the product and attaching more importance to innovation. And we are concentrating on the team – in this aspect we are going to become more professional and adapt.
Where did you first start when you took over the job from long-serving predecessor, Rolf Schmid?
First of all it is vital to say that we are not carrying out a revolution, rather we are undergoing evolutionary development. We are building up a strong brand but we have found some approaches that we need to correct.
The product itself should be moved back to the foreground, as should innovation. We are taking a steady path when it comes to increasing the performance of our products and we will further strengthen the premium demands of the brand. Along with this we are optimizing design and technology.
Have you made any strategic changes?
Everywhere you will see: Sell out rather than sell in. The time when the outdoor industry grew thanks to the ever-increasing demand is over, so we need to think. How do I sell less to retail and how do I sell more to the customer? We are only satisfied when retail sells our products successfully. We also need to support our partners more when we sell.
How does that work?
I need to make realistic plans with the partner and accompany them through the whole season. We are just about to launch a pilot project with selected retailers and we will support them in the areas of space planning and productivity. We are implementing an additional customer database which will help us to better understand the needs of our target group. We are therefore going to strategically position ourselves much more strongly at the point of sale, both online and in stores.
The first digital measures are on their way, even if you are a little late: setting up an online shop.
We need e-commerce. Digital channels are gaining in importance for our customers. They expect shopping 24/7, anywhere and anytime. And our customers are active on social networks so we should meet them there. But yes, our multichannel strategy has only just begun. Today our e-commerce share of the market is incredibly small.
What are the numbers, and your target numbers?
We don’t publish any figures, but in e-commerce we still have a lot of room to grow.
What changes are there in your collection?
We are focusing, and that means that we are reducing our collection. We are putting every product to the test: Functionality, innovation, design – are they in line with our requirements, our DNA?
If something doesn’t hit the mark then it’s out. We are going to reduce our collection by 20 percent for summer 2018, both to give our brand more of a premium character and to lift it to another level, among other reasons.
It sounds like less is more, at the point of sale too?
We are currently reducing our distribution and are counting on fewer points of sale so that we can work better and more intensively with these. The premium approach is valid for all of these: If I have more goods in circulation than I can sell, then I am weakening my brand. If I have too many points of sale which are not performing sufficiently, then I am weakening my brand. Mammut stands for premium.
That means that Mammut will expand its mono-brand shops.
Not in the DACH region though, we’ve stopped expansion for 2017 there. We are currently cleaning up our store portfolio and are looking towards a strong and qualitative improvement in our sites, shop fitting, staff, etc.
We will only start to grow again in retail when we master this channel. It is a different story in the USA and Asia. We are going to open new stores in 2017 in these regions as we see growth potential there.
Will the high-performance specialist Mammut offer Urban Outdoor in the future like so many outdoor companies?
Our DNA is alpine inspired. And that is not going to change. There will be evolutionary adjustments. We’ve made them before. But we are going to break down the functions and developments from the high performance collections. Our DNA must be recognizable in every product, even if it is more is more of an everyday product.
Read next Friday: Mammut CEO Oliver Pabst on balance sheet figures, his leadership style, the workforce and how he sees the legacy of his predecessor, Rolf Schmid, who led the Swiss company for 20 years.