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Ryka Readies for Growth With Ripa

With Kelly Ripa as its new face, Ryka plans to triple its business by 2009.

With Kelly Ripa as its new face, Ryka plans to triple its business by 2009.

The $45 million active firm is leveraging the first celebrity endorsement in its 21-year history to broaden its customer base, which traditionally has been performance-oriented, according to Tom O’Riordan, chief executive officer of Ryka parent company American Sporting Goods.

“Kelly has large appeal and crosses age demographics,” O’Riordan said. “Fitness is a part of her life, but it doesn’t control it.”

Ryka, best known for its sponsorship of the Iron Woman Triathlon series, sees Ripa as its ticket to a more lifestyle-oriented customer. In addition to the fall launch of a Kelly Ripa product line, which will wholesale from $17.50 to $80 in thousands of doors, the TV personality will serve as “an icon for the brand as a whole,” according to O’Riordan.

Ripa has been wearing Ryka product on recent fitness segments on her morning talk show. The actress said she’s enjoyed the design process and has been pulling inspiration for her line from recent travels.

“They said for me to get inspired and do things that inspire you, and I find that everywhere I look there’s inspiration,” she said. “When I was traveling, I found a kimono fabric I loved and a Mayan symbol from Mexico that I thought would be great.”

Relaunched with a more feminine logo and an advertising spend that has multiplied at least five times over the past year’s spending, Ryka expects to double revenues this year, and then add another 50 percent in 2009, bringing its projections for the end of that year to around $135 million in wholesale volume. O’Riordan expects half the 2009 growth to come from Ripa’s line and the other half to come from growth in existing lines, which will be helped by publicity from Ripa.