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How competitive is the outdoor wear market in Germany? What do you think are the reasons?
Germany is the biggest and most important outdoor market in Europe. Many brands have their roots in Germany. In the past ten to fifteen years, growth came naturally and there was enough space for anyone selling outdoor products. In the meantime, the market has grown to a considerable size and we can see smaller growth rates. Consumers need to be convinced to buy another jacket or pair of shoes. Brands need to be attractive every season again.
Being the industry of the application-oriented concepts, what are the challenges faced by the outdoor wear industry?
The most important topic right now is the elimination of hazardous chemicals from our supply chains, where Jack Wolfskin is one of the leaders in the industry. We need to find solutions especially for fluorinated compounds. These substances ensure the weather protection of our products. Renouncing for them is a major challenge since there are no real PFC-free alternatives with the same performance level available on the market right now. Nonetheless, we are optimistic to guarantee our consumers the same performance levels than in the past also in future. For winter 2014 a significant part of our collection will be PFC-free.
Which countries/regions have a high demand for the outdoor wear? What are the reasons?
Of course, there are certain climate regions where outdoor products are used naturally. The Scandinavian countries, Canada or Russia are good examples. In other countries such as China, there are a growing number of consumers with a higher socio-demographic status, who want to wear outdoor products when they are going outdoors.
How distinctive is Jack Wolfskin from other outdoor wear companies?
We at Jack Wolfskin have our roots in trekking, not mountaineering. This is why we define ourselves over distance, not altitude. This is quite rare in the outdoor industry, as most brands see themselves in alpine environments.
How important is sustainability in the outdoor wear industry? What measures are taken for thriving environmental awareness and protection by the industry that is so close to nature?
Consumer expectations are higher in our industry than in other sectors. That is due to our being at home outdoors. Using nature and protecting nature seem to be paradox but should belong together. This is our special responsibility. Nevertheless, sustainability should not be done or used due to marketing purposes. There are two important areas where we took action in the past and will follow through in future. First, it is clear that outdoor brands such as Jack Wolfskin are on the right path when they joined Fair Wear Foundation as a multi stakeholder initiative in order to ensure certain labor standards. Second, the use of chemicals in outdoor products is widely discussed as some of these chemicals have very negative side effects in nature. We understand this discussion and have taken decisive steps in order to phase out hazardous chemicals from our supply chain and renounce for per- and poly-fluorinated compounds until 2020.
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