Ski and sportswear brand Spyder will have a substantially bigger presence in the South Korean market through an accelerated retail rollout by yearend.
Authentic Brands Group acquired the brand in August 2013, and Global Brands Group Holding Ltd. has the master license for apparel on a worldwide basis. That agreement also includes the operation of Spyder stores.
GBG is planning 25 stores in South Korea — through a combination of freestanding units and shops-in-shop — by the end of the year. Shops-in-shop are planned at the Galleria Department Store, Hyundai Department Store, Lotte Department Store and AK Department Store. The brand will have freestanding stores in Seoul, Daegu, Gumi, Incheon and Sokcho. Separate from the South Korean business, GBG has four freestanding Spyder stores in North America.
Jamie Salter, chairman and chief executive officer of ABG, said, “The Spyder business has almost doubled in revenue since we bought the brand. Retail revenue was around $225 million at the time. Today it is at $400 million in retail sales worldwide.
“The business is 40 percent North America, 40 percent in Europe and 20 percent of it is international outside of Europe….This is the first real push into the Asian market,” Salter said.
ABG’s ceo said ABG and GBG chose Korea because the country is “really the center of the universe for the outerwear business in Asia.” He added that the model for the Korean stores, which will serve as the model for expansion into China and a bigger push into Japan, will have the sites showcase the core line that’s available globally, with the addition of more fashion-forward merchandise that’s tailored to the local market.
Bruce Rockowitz, ceo and vice chairman of GBG, said, “Spyder is a global brand that is well-known in Europe and the U.S. There’s a component [available] in Asia through e-commerce, but no real distribution in Asia. Korea is an important country. It is the hub of design [for many areas] and a lot of Asia looks to Korea directionally, especially China for music and design.”
According to Rockowitz, the thinking behind zeroing in on Korea for the first stop in Asian expansion was due in part to the Winter Olympics, which are due to be held there in 2018. “This definitely will be winter-driven, with the outdoors a large market. After that, China will have the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. We see [from those two events] big growth in the outdoor market and in winter sports.”
Designers in Korea and Boulder, Colo., where Spyder is based, have been collaborating on design. That both helps maintain the DNA of the brand for the core line and with the creation of the “local collection” for Korea. Rockowitz explained that the fashion content is about more than just sportswear with some novelty that’s applicable for mountain climbing. The product is also focused on engineering aspects in the apparel line — a feature that includes performance-wear fabrications. The dialogue between the design teams allows for the inclusion of technological components that, on a bigger scale, can eventually be a part of the entire line globally, Rockowitz said.
The freestanding stores in Korea are mostly located in shopping districts at the street level. “The market timing was good for us. The market was hit by MERS in June, which slowed everything down. There was an availability of good real estate sites,” said Rockowitz, who added that the three-year plan for Korea calls for 70 stores by the end of 2017.
The next big focus for GBG for the Spyder brand will be China, with an eye toward first- and second-tier cities, Rockowitz said.
According to Salter, ABG is in discussions with potential licensees for cold weather accessories, bags and hard goods such as goggles. Spyder-branded footwear is planned for 2017.
ABG’s goal when it acquired Spyder was to build it into a performance fashion, outdoor and ski brand, as well as diversify it into a four-season company. Price points range from $99 to $1,200.