SBD/31/Sponsorships Advertising Marketing

L.A. GEAR ACQUIRES WOMEN'S ATHLETIC SHOE MAKER

     L.A. Gear announced it has agreed to acquire Ryka Inc., a
small "but admired" maker of women's performance athletic shoes -
- a deal valued at more than $16M.  For L.A. Gear, "once a high-
flying performer in athletic shoes but now plagued by losses, the
acquisition would represent an effort to expand its product lines
and enter new niche markets."  Ryka may be better known for its
founder and CEO Sheri Poe, who has used the company as a platform
to educate women about violence and abuse.  Poe began the Ryka
Rose Foundation and pledged $10,000 a quarter to aid victims of
violence and abuse.  Ryka will remain an independent brand, and
L.A. Gear has pledged full support of the Rose Foundation.  Ryka
had just under $15M in sales in '93 and has yet to show a profit
in its 10 years of existence.  Poe will remain president of Ryka
and is expected to become a L.A. Gear director (Glenn Rifkin,
N.Y. TIMES, 1/31).  L.A. Gear CEO Stanley Gold: "The footwear
industry is beginning a consolidation phase" (USA TODAY, 1/31).
     '95 FOOTWEAR OFFENSIVE:  Athletic footwear companies "are
back on the offensive" in 1995, with "revamped" marketing
strategies, new designs and technologies, and "aggressive
expansion into new categories," according to the latest issue of
ADVERTISING AGE.  At this week's Super Show in Atlanta, the
companies get their first chance to "stake their claims" for the
next decade.  Nike will "position hockey and soccer as the
emerging sports," while Reebok will attempt to establish itself
as the "athletic performance brand of the '90s."  Adidas America,
Converse and Fila USA will "kick off a yearlong fight to be No. 3
by carving out niches for themselves, distinct from Nike and
Reebok."  Reebok will channel $20M of its $70M media budget into
"regional marketing efforts" -- featuring such endorsers as Frank
Thomas, John Elway, Shawn Kemp, and Shaquille O'Neal.  Fila use
Grant Hill for its campaign, titled "A Rookie's Journal" (Jeff
Jensen, ADVERTISING AGE, 1/30 issue).
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