By  on August 20, 2008

ATLANTA — Looking to expand aggressively in Europe, Icebreaker has acquired Rockline Nature Zone, its distributor in Switzerland and France, and has created two new subsidiaries, Icebreaker Switzerland and Icebreaker France.

Craig Stoddart, who founded Rockline Nature Zone in Switzerland in 1999, after noticing that his outdoor athlete friends there were beginning to wear Icebreaker, will become general manager of Icebreaker Switzerland and France. Icebreaker is sold in more than 200 stores in Switzerland and, after only two years, carried by 80 retailers in France. Icebreaker said its sales in France are up in the triple digits.

“One in every three Icebreaker garments is now sold in Europe,” said Jeremy Moon, founder and CEO of Icebreaker, which is based in Wellington, New Zealand. “Our business continues to expand rapidly in Europe, which is now Icebreaker’s largest market [the U.S. is its largest single market]. Our European outdoor customer is highly discerning when it comes to his or her apparel and [they’re] also looking for companies that care about social and environmental ethics and animal welfare.”

Icebreaker has 10 distinct pure merino wool fabrics in its apparel offerings, covering underwear, mid-layer and outerwear. It buys all its wool from New Zealand sheep stations, and on August 1 launched its Baacode traceability program in the U.S. and Canada, enabling customers to follow their garments through every step of the production process. Baacode will expand to Europe in September and to Australia and New Zealand in October.

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