By  on January 13, 2005

NEW YORK — As part of a major overhaul in strategy, Fila has ended sponsorship of tennis champ Jennifer Capriati as well as the U.S. Open tournament and will return to more sophisticated looks, said Steve Wynne, president and chief executive officer at Fila’s parent, Sport Brands International.

“The number one need we saw was to establish a clear global brand identity for Fila that can be adopted’’ in local markets, said Wynne, in his first major interview since joining the company last March. “For many years, Fila defined high-end Italian luxury sportswear. This is what drove Fila’s success, but in an effort to grow top-line sales, the company walked away from its core values.”

In the last nine months, Wynne has scrutinized the once-mighty sports brand and spoken with retailers to gauge Fila’s positioning and develop a new direction for the brand, which has global sales of about $1 billion, including licensing revenues.

Wynne, speaking at Fila’s headquarters at 8 West 40th Street here, outlined these key strategies:

  • Introduction of a new division called Filativa targeting 18- to 24-year-olds.

  • Fewer and more targeted sponsorships of sporting events and players.

  • Overhaul of Fila footwear and apparel to include more upscale looks and sophisticated designs.

  • A new marketing campaign designed to highlight the brand’s Italian heritage.

  • Relocation of the showroom and corporate headquarters to a larger space on Madison Avenue and the opening of a Fila retail store in the same building.
SBI also revealed this week that is has bought Cloudveil Mountain Works, an outdoor apparel and equipment company based in Jackson Hole, Wyo., but did not release terms. This will operated as a separate company within SBI and will maintain offices in Jackson Hole and Denver. In addition to Fila, SBI also owns Ciesse, a winter sports brand.

These developments follow a rocky period for Fila, which in recent years was  mired in financial and organizational problems. At the end of 2002 Fila had a heavy debt load and posted a loss of $76 million on sales of $859.5 million.

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