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Germany is the biggest and most important outdoor market in Europe.
Michael Rupp, CEO of Jack Wolfskin, discusses the trends and volume of the outdoor wear market in the global setup in an interview with Fibre2Fashion Correspondent Ridaa Saiyed.
Jack Wolfskin, founded in 1981 is the manufacturer of innovative, high-performance, comfortable outdoor equipments. Jack Wolfskin has approx. 4000 retail outlets across the world in the specialist trade and Jack Wolfskin franchise stores.
Michael Rupp is the CEO of Jack Wolfskin and has more than 20 years of industry experience. Before joining Jack Wolfskin, he held various roles at Adidas for more than 10 years, including as Managing Director in Central Europe (which includes Germany, Austria and Switzerland) before joining Reebok as Chief Operating Officer in 2005. He then became CEO of Rockport, a US shoe brand.
Jack Wolfskin was founded in 1981. How has your company evolved over the years?
Jack Wolfskin has grown rapidly over the years and is now one of Europe's largest manufacturers of outdoor apparel, footwear and equipment. In 1993, we opened our first franchise store in Heidelberg, Germany. In 1995, the first store abroad followed. Four years later, we entered the market with our first footwear collection. In 2000, the first Jack Wolfskin cinema ad premiered. Four years later we went on TV. Since 2002 we rely on our claim "At home outdoors" which is incredibly successful and meaningful to consumers. A really important step in our internationalization strategy followed in 2007 when we entered the Chinese market where we have more stores now than in the rest of the world. In 2009, the first store in St. Petersburg opened the doors for Russians. This year, a store in Moscow followed and we are now also present in several countries in Latin America.
Can you give us a broad idea about the outdoor wear industry in a global setup?
The outdoor industry gives consumers what they are yearning for in their highly regulated daily lives: Independence, freedom and authentic experiences in nature. Therefore, being outdoors is a worldwide trend. Of course, there are differences in markets such as the US, Europe or Asia. Nevertheless, we are seeing more opportunities than ever.
Who are the consumers of the outdoor wear industry?
Our consumer lives in a modern, urban and highly regulated environment. They want to spend time with friends and family and are looking for freedom, independence and pristine experiences.
Do you think that the outdoor wear industry is limited to the specific customer segment (mainly the hikers and mountaineers)?
No, not at all. Jack Wolfskin is not focusing on a niche of the outdoor market. Our products are useful for a wide range of outdoor activities and even for everyday life. Although the brand evolved from trekkers in the 80s, we also offer products for mountain biking, kayaking, trail running, etc. There are many more applications in the outdoor industry today compared to the past.
What factors are kept in mind while producing the outdoor wear?
There are three factors: function, comfort and design. Function is essential for outdoor wear. Comfort is important for consumers to feel good being outdoors. In addition, design plays a bigger and bigger role, because outdoor products have so many positive characteristics that consumers even wear them in everyday life.
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