Bucher + Walt SA has grown out of a passion for sailing and has developed into Switzerland’s biggest wholesaler for aqua sports goods, electronic devices and marine supplies. The company has a portfolio with more than 25,000 products from 100 different brands, such as Lewmar, Ronstan, Seldén, Henri Lloyd, Garmin, Humminbird, Dakine, Spy, TSG, Liquid Force and Jobe.
“We provide an excellent mixture of different articles in different categories,” says Julien Bucher, Joint Managing Director and Coowner of Bucher + Walt SA. “We have helped leading brands establish their market in Switzerland, convincing our customers with our outstanding service, flexibility and efficient logistic structures.”
The company was founded in 1966 by Pierre Walt and Manfred Bucher. They were both successful racing sailors, who started importing sailing equipment such as boat fittings from England to the Swiss market. Their first warehouse was their garage at home, but the business grew fast and they started to rent warehouses after a short time.
In 1984, the two business partners built their own headquarters and warehouse in St-Blaise, where they still have a modern facility with over 3,000 m². The tradition was continued and the sons of the two founders, Romain Walt and Julien Bucher, joined the family business to support the company with competence, passion and entrepreneurship.
“We have been active in the company for many years,” says Mr. Bucher, who is responsible for the sport and lifestyle sectors. “Romain Walt and I have spent a lot of time with our fathers on a sailboat and grew up in the industry.”
Bucher + Walt has grown together with its brand. Over the course of the years, the company added different brands to its portfolio and some of them have grown to be very successful. “There are basically two brands which have helped us to become what we are today,” states the owner. “One of them is Dakine, which we integrated into our product portfolio in 1988. Dakine is a Hawaiian brand that builds backpacks, bags, gloves and accessories for surf, skate, snowboard, ski, mountain bike, windsurf, and kite. The firm started producing leashes for surf boards in 1979. Today, it is the leading brand for backpacks in Switzerland and we have been part of this development.”
The second important brand for Bucher + Walt is Garmin, an American producer of GPS navigation devices, which was founded in 1989. “We were the leading distributor of Garmin products worldwide,” illustrates Mr. Bucher. “This opened the market of electronic devices for us.”
Today, the portfolio comprises more than 25,000 products from 100 brands in the 14 main segments navigation, apparel, safety, fittings, blocks and rolls, lashing, berth and anchor, furnishing, lighting and onboard electronics, plumbing and pumps, maintenance and care, screws, adhesive and tools, water skiing, wake and fun as well as fishing.
“We provide everything sailors or other water sports enthusiasts need,” points out Mr. Bucher. “We have continuously adapted our portfolio to the needs of our consumers. The offer in the market is huge and we always try to find the products, which fulfill the high demands of the consumers. Quality and performance are very important. In addition, requests and orders are processed within hours, and sameday dispatch is standard for us.”
Bucher + Walt not only brings benefits to the consumers, but also to the producers. With more than 50 years of experience in the Swiss market, the company has the experience to support brands in the area of water sports, lifestyle and electronics in placing their products in the different channels.
The products are sold through more than 1,500 resellers, through online shops and in the company’s own shop in St-Blaise. For strategic brands, for instance Dakine, Bucher + Walt runs dedicated websites to enhance the brands’ strong identities.
“We have many different options in sales and marketing,” explains Mr. Bucher. “We can start with a brand from the bottom as well as from the top. We determine what the goals of the brand are and develop specific distribution strategies. We have a very strong customer service and are highly flexible with regard to logistics and distribution channels.”
Today, Bucher + Walt is mostly active on the Swiss market. From 2018, the family business will become active in exports, focusing in neighbouring countries such as Germany, Austria, Italy or France.
Another important topic for the future is the digitalization of the company. At the beginning of 2015, Bucher + Walt successfully implemented a new ERP system to be ready for the new challenges in the market. E-commerce will also be a strong focus in the distribution strategy in the coming years and the firm is working on new solutions to fulfill the increasing demands of the customers.
“We live in a time in which the consumers decide which products they want to have,” states the Managing Director. “They determine the market and the producers need to react to their different requirements. This is really exciting and we give our best every day, to find the right solutions for our clients.”
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