Sports Business/11/02/2017

ABS avalanche airbag has a new owner: Stefan Mohr also has plans for summer business

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SPIN capital, a financial holding company based in Munich, has acquired 100 percent of ABS Peter Aschauer GmbH,  market leader in the avalanche airbag sector. This also makes Stefan Mohr CEO of ABS Protection GmbH. Mohr, nephew of former national ski coach Heinz Mohr, spoke with about his plans, financial development, sales and production. And Stefan Mohr told us that he and ABS have ideas for summer. “We want to position the brand more broadly.“

1)	Stefan Mohr, the new CEO of ABS Protection, together with the avalanche rucksack P.RIDE.
Stefan Mohr, the new CEO of ABS Protection, together with the avalanche rucksack P.RIDE.

SPIN capital feels right at home in the sports business

Stefan Mohr comes from a winter sports family. Born in Passau, he grew up in the Alpine town of Mittenwald and is himself an excellent skier. His uncle, Heinz Mohr, was the coach for Germany's national ski team, was head of the Alpine Sports Center in Garmisch-Partenkirchen for 20 years and race organizer at the 2011 Ski World Cup in Garmisch. Stefan Mohr is on first-name basis with the Neureuther-Mittermaier and Wasmaier families and knows his way around the ski scene. “It is possible,“ he says, “that that opened one or two doors for me.“

Including, possibly, the door to Peter Aschauer. Stefan Mohr, CEO of the Munich-based financial holding company SPIN capital, was able to convince the founder of ABS avalanche airbag (which has developed into a dominating market leader over the past three decades) to sell 100 percent of the company to him. “I am certain that SPIN capital's exclusive focus on the sports business played a large part in the decision-making process,“ said Stefan Mohr in his interview with “I was able to turn my hobby into my job, so to speak.“

“For me, it was important to find a new proprietor who would continue the success of our avalanche airbag.“ These were the words of Peter Aschauer as he sold his company to SPIN capital before retiring at the age of 74. He feels that his legacy is in good hands with Stefan Mohr. SPIN capital has been in the sports business for years now. Stefan Mohr has big plans for ABS – even ones that go beyond its current winter business with avalanche airbags.

Stefan Mohr and Peter Aschauer. 
Stefan Mohr and Peter Aschauer. 
Image credit:
ABS Protection GmbH

“We want to drive ABS forward. Toward a brand that is active all year round“

“We will oriente ourselves more strongly according to our customers' needs,“ said Stefan Mohr during the presentation of the new avalanche airbag P.RIDE, “and work on, for example, reducing the airbag's weight even further.“ However, the new head of the traditional company wants to go even further. “ABS is such a strong brand,“ says Stefan Mohr, “that can incorporate so much more: additional product worlds, different sports.“

Stefan Mohr responds to our probing by explaining: “We can make even more out of the key terms 'Protection' and 'Adventure', which form the cornerstones of the company; we can go beyond winter sports. We want to drive the brand forward. Toward a brand that is active all year round. Toward summer.“ Though it is currently too soon to discuss individual product ideas, one thing is certain: Mohr has cycling, maybe water sports, but definitely outdoor adventures in mind for summer. This is a goal that can, according to Stefan Mohr, “only be implemented in the coming years.“

New product management for ABS

The take-over of ABS is no short-term investment – Mohr has long-term plans: “We want to make growth history, have stories to tell.“ Which potentially means: no more niche business. In comparison with his predecessor Peter Aschauer, Stefan Mohr does not want to be dependent on winter, climate and the unpredictable nature of avalanche security. “We will position ourselves more broadly,“ he says. In order to do so, Stefan Mohr wants to use SPIN capital to “give clear commercial guidance“ - as well as to refresh the product management at ABS.

Market for ski tours and freeriders shows strong growth

Stefan Mohr and SPIN capital have big plans for ABS. wanted to know more. What was his motivation behind entering the avalanche airbag business?

Stefan Mohr on his motivation to take over 100 percent of ABS Peter Aschauer GmbH: “In principal, we take out shares in sports companies that demonstrate growth potential. With the acquisition of ABS, we have gained a market-leader known for high-quality products. And although it has seen difficult times, we recognize the company's great potential to achieve success on the growing market for ski tours and freeriders.“

On future collaboration with the founder of ABS: “Peter Aschauer will continue to make his extensive and long-standing network of contacts available to us where it will benefit the company, however will be retiring from operations.“

On his interest in the subject of avalanche airbags: “Winter sports have always been a big part of my family, we are passionate skiers. I have focused on this area of sports, as well as the relating topics of avalanches and avalanche security, for many years now.“

“SPIN stands for SPorts INvestments“

Peter Aschauer has been a prominent name in the business for over 30 years – what is SPIN's philosophy?

Stefan Mohr on the market position of ABS airbags: “ABS embodies the avalanche airbag sector like no other company, they practically created this market. Its current airbag model P.RIDE has a partner activation feature and shows a great deal of potential in its fully developed form. I am sure that we will expand our product range over the coming years and oriente ourselves even more strongly according to our customers' needs, including a reduction in weight.“

“Financially, ABS has certainly not always had it easy in the past few years. However that is where we came in, to change the situation. And we know exactly what we have to do. Add to that a little luck with the weather and I see a bright future for ABS.“

On SPIN capital: “SPIN stands for SPorts INvestments. We have already helped several sports companies develop into high-growth brands. These include event series and sportswear brands, as well as commitments from shareholders such as aim and sporttotal.“

On his company philosophy: “Taking on entrepreneurial responsibility is part of SPIN's philosophy. We are not just a pure financial investor. I will be taking over the management of ABS because of my experience and am already immensely looking forward to the task.“

ABS production will continue in Gottfrieding

So what changes can staff expect? What challenges does Stefan Mohr predict?

Stefan Mohr on his plans with ABS, in particular questions relating to its site: “For us, continuity is especially important when it comes to a technological product such as those pertaining to ABS. That's why we will continue production in Gottfrieding in Lower Bavaria. We believe that this will give us a deciding edge over our competitors. Made in Germany is and remains a seal of quality for our products.“

On sales structures: “For the 2017/2018 season, we will be focusing our sales on the D-A-C-H region as well as France, Italy and Canada. In addition, organizations such as mountain rescue, alpine police, etc. remain important customers for us. Expansion into many other sectors could only really begin in the 2018/2019 season.“

On plans and challenges: “The new P.RIDE Compact will allow us to launch an excellent product (with improvements regarding handling and fit) that is one step ahead of the competition. We also have further innovations up our sleeve and will continue to work closely with athletes such as Eva Walkner, Matthias Haunholder or Xavier de le Rue. This is important because they act as role models for our target audience and are able to spread our message in an authentic manner. The fundamental challenge for ABS was, remains and will always be to convince end customers that we offer the best possible product to assist them in a potentially life-threatening situation.“

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