For years, the shoes category has been a pleasure for outdoor and sports retailers. Shoes in the outdoor market alone have grown in recent years to currently account for over 30 percent of total industry sales. This is the result of the "State of Trade report" of the European Outdoor Group presented in June. The recently published market figures from IFH Cologne and BBE Handelsberatung on the German shoe market also attest to the highest growth rates for sports and leisure shoes in particular. Sports retailers in particular are benefiting from the trend and are attacking classic shoe retailers because many consumers are migrating to sports specialists - even if they are not involved in any sports at all.
It is understandable that more and more brands are trying to literally gain a foothold in this segment. So what do brands as different as Black Diamond, Icepeak, On and Ecco have in common? They all focus on outdoor footwear and presented a completely new or expanded shoe range at the past Outdoor by Ispo.
"This was a logical step for us as a Swiss brand from the Alps," explains Caspar Coppetti, co-founder of running specialist On, presenting the first ankle-high on-wander shoe. The special thing about it is that it is 35 percent lighter than classic mountain boots in this category. In 2016, On already launched the first trail running shoe. "Light and fast - and as comfortable as a running shoe - are mega trends on the mountain. Trail running has paved the way for us into the outdoor segment," continues Coppetti.
The Finnish L-Fashion Group with the brands Icepeak and Luhta has made its way into the outdoor segment with the acquisition of the footwear brand Dachstein. After the group had taken over 49 percent of the Austrian shoe brand in 2018, the complete takeover followed in April 2019.
"We benefit from the sales organisation of the L-Fashion Group," explains Christian Wolsegger, Managing Director of Dachstein. "At the same time, the premium brand Dachstein expands the customer structure for L-Fashion on the retail side and among consumers. Although Luhta and Icepeak do offer their own small shoe collections, these are hardly represented in the trade outside Scandinavia.
Hardware specialist Black Diamond sees the shoe market as the growth potential of the future. Stephan Hagenbusch, General Manager Black Diamond Europe: "In our opinion, the shoe segment consisting of climbing and approach/life style shoes will be the most important and strongest growth area for Black Diamond over the next few seasons".
Last year, Black Diamond launched its first climbing shoe. Now, for the first time, the US brand is presenting an "Approach/Performance Lifestyle Shoe" for the coming summer, which is intended to appeal to both the classic climbing scene and the general public. "With a view to our designs, the construction of the shoes and the materials used, it quickly becomes clear that we want to appeal above all to younger and urban climbers," Hagenbusch continues.
The fact that Ecco, the world's largest manufacturer of brown shoes, also makes outdoor shoes is neither new nor surprising. "But what many people don't know is that we're serious about it now," says Sean Tindale, Senior Global Marketing Manager of Ecco Outdoor. "We want to increase the smallest share of sales within the Ecco brand because we see the greatest growth potential in the outdoor segment.
A separate business unit was established for the outdoor segment and professionals were purchased to ensure that Ecco Outdoor gets a new opportunity in the market. The major relaunch is scheduled to start in August 2019. The positioning: "We are outsiders, first of all the people think of us, and of course it fits the idea of Outdoor", says Tindale. "And we don't believe that outdoor shoes will have to look like outdoor shoes any further in the future.