Johnson Outdoors Inc. forms alliance with Thule

SALT LAKE CITY – Johnson Outdoors Inc. and Swedish load-carrier system manufacturer Thule, Inc. have formed a strategic alliance aimed at growing excitement and participation among watersports’ consumers, and driving more sales for outdoor products retailers, the companies said in joint release recently.

The companies said their alliance is designed to benefit the marketplace through cooperative efforts in the areas of product innovation, marketing, promotion and consumer education.

A key focus of the alliance is new product collaboration to enable more consumers to more easily engage in watersports activity. Thule’s Hullavator, being unveiled at this week’s Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City, is the first innovation to result from the companies’ work together. The Hullavator is the first kayak rack designed for all shapes and sizes of kayaks and people. It loads at waist level, reducing strain on the lower back and making it easier for people of all heights and strength.

“The combination of Johnson Outdoors’ unique consumer insight and Thule’s technical expertise is the formula behind the Hullavator, and we think it’s a formula for success,” said Mark Leopold, group vice president – Watercraft, Johnson Outdoors. “By removing one of the most significant barriers to paddlesports participation among women and boomers, Thule and Johnson Outdoors have opened our retailers’ doors for an infusion of new consumers.”

Thule’s Envoy program will get a boost from the alliance with added support from Johnson Outdoors. Beginning in 2005, key Midwest destinations will be added to the mobile marketing program’s consumer event and retail clinic schedule. In addition, Necky, Ocean Kayak, Old Town and Escape brand products will be featured prominently in Thule, Inc. catalogues and advertising. Likewise, Thule boat racks will appear distinctly in all Johnson Outdoors watercraft brand marketing materials. Joint consumer and retail promotions are also under development.

“We like to work with leaders in their field, and Johnson Outdoors certainly fits that description in the outdoor recreation industry,” said Fred Clark, president, Thule, Inc. “Our alliance reflects our individual and combined commitment to helping our retailers grow their business and the watersports marketplace as a whole.”

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