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Making waves

Portrait

Speedo is so synonymous with swimming that the generic name for tight swimming briefs for men is Speedos. Speedo costumes for women also signify a more sportoriented approach to swimming and are the costume of choice for those hoping to make waves in the pool.

“Speedo simply make the best products for fitness and competitive swimmers because they are the focus of their product development,” says CEO Clara-Mathée van Puijenbroek. “A huge amount of their research goes into developing materials that are flexible enough to provide the comfort and freedom of movement required, and that are also chlorine-resistant to withstand a heavy, pool-based training programme.”

Another brand that All Sport Benelux has also helped in its development into all-conquering sports and lifestyle brand is Nike. The company was among the first to distribute Nike products in the 1970s before the brand was widely known and long before it had become the household name it is now.

“We really helped position the brand in the 1970s and 1980s until Nike took distribution back in house in the 1990s,” says Ms. Van Puijenbroek. “In 2010, however, they changed their strategy again and we won the license to distribute Nike-branded accessories in France and the Benelux countries. In 2016, this was extended to Spain and Portugal.”

As well as geographic distribution rights, All Sport Benelux also enjoys exclusive distribution contracts with particular retail customers such as Nike shops, sports retail behemoth Decathlon and Footlocker. “Nike is booming at the moment,” says Ms. van Puijenbroek. “It is one of the strongest brands in the world and enormously popular with the all-important millennials customer segment.”

On the back of its success with Nike, All Sport Benelux has enjoyed strong growth over the past few years. In 2017, turnover reached 32 million EUR with further growth expected for the coming years. “We recently added Converse bags to the range of products we distribute and in 2016 we won the distribution rights to Plage du Sud, a French brand of women’s swim and beachwear. It is a privately owned, family company making brightly patterned, fun beach outfits aimed at women and girls,” outlines Ms. van Puijenbroek. “The prints are very exotic and colourful and will go down well with our retailers.”

All Sport Benelux positions itself as a full service partner for its customers. “We are not just limited to buying and selling,” says Ms. Van Puijenbroek. “Our service goes much further to cover product handling and logistics, data analysis and store support, POS promotions and after sales service. We cover the entire value chain to add value for our customers.”

Most importantly, the company is financially sound with the backing of a major holding ensuring it is able to maintain adequate stocks and offer a wide product range. “We offer personal assistance in any way we can to make our clients’ lives easier,” says Ms. van Puijenbroek. “We are very customer-focused and have dedicated sales teams serving all of our international markets.”

Among these, France is the company’s most important export market. “We recently started working in Portugal and Spain and think the German market could be very interesting for us in the future,” says Ms. van Puijenbroek. “It depends a lot on the brands. There is also a growing trend to accompany stationary outlets with an online shop. These are developments we will have to adapt to in the future.”

One area of improvement that has been identified is digital, where the company is investing in more in-house knowledge. The creation of a brand-new company website, a new B2B platform and professional digital support for our retailers will be soon the outcome of a strategy that prioritizes digital channels for communication with end users and within our own organization.

“We also want to raise awareness of the All Sport brand,” says Ms. van Puijenbroek. “It is too easy to forget that we are not just promoting brands we distribute but also our own brand as distributor. Our vision is to expand throughout Western Europe. We will continue to focus on top brands with the aim of becoming their partner of choice in all of the markets in which they want to be active. There are growth opportunities to be exploited.”

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