Roka is expanding its reach.
The Austin, Tex.-based sports brand will launch a direct-to-consumer e-commerce site in Europe that will be supported by a newly opened distribution center in the U.K.
“This is a huge step forward for us as a brand,” said Rob Canales, Roka’s cofounder and chief executive officer. “We’ve supported some of the best professional athletes in Europe since we started, and now can offer every multisport athlete in Europe the absolute best high-performance optics and apparel. The demand for Roka’s innovative gear has been building throughout Europe — now we can satisfy that demand quickly and efficiently while remaining cost competitive.”
The brand is strongest in the U.K., Germany and France and a company spokesperson said customers in the past have been forced to pay a premium because of the added taxes, duties and shipping.
By selling direct in Europe, Roka will no longer be “constrained by long lead times to secure floor space and the thin profit margins of the retail model,” the company said. The European web site will service customers in 28 countries and product will be sold in euros and pounds.
Canales and his cofounder Kurt Spenser were competitive swimmers at Stanford University and launched Roka in 2013 with a wetsuit for triathlon that they believed was superior in its design to others in the market by putting swimmers in the most streamlined body position possible. The brand has since expanded into swimwear, sports apparel and eyewear.