The French apparel company, Eider is stepping up their focus on the U.S. market through several initiatives launched by their North American distributor, Eider N.A., owned by Gene Frederick, the company’s president. Eider N.A. has hired True North Brand group to head up a new PR effort, which is part of a five-part plan to boost sales in North America.

Frederick acquired the distribution rights from Eider’s wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary two years ago after running the business for seven years. This move went against the flow of most European companies in the North American market. With a 30% fluctuation in Euro-Dollar exchange rates over the past few years, many EU companies are dropping third-party distributors and launching U.S. subsidiaries or pulling out of the market altogether. Frederick told BOSS that he has had a relationship with the Eider executive team in France for over 20 years, and he wanted to invest personal equity in the brand, above and beyond what the parent company was willing to invest. This led to his acquisition of the N.A. distribution rights.

Apart from Eider’s renewed PR efforts, the company plans to expand its advertising budget, strengthen its pro-purchase program, fortify its sales team, and launch a team of sponsored U.S. athletes.

“Right now we are at the lowest level in the U.S. market as far as volume is concerned,” said Frederick. “The brand is reaching that critical point where we know it is time to take it to the next level.”

Frederick said that Eider currently has about 150 dealers across the country and he plans to expand that to “just over 200” by the end of the year. Longer term, he is looking to grow the company to about 400 to 500 “strong specialty dealers throughout North America.” Eider started in the U.S. as a “Freeride ski brand,” but Fredrick sees most of the new growth coming from the alpine climbing, trekking and outdoor markets.

The Eider apparel design is very French in nature with some U.S. influence, but Frederick hopes the formation of the new team of athletes will add some more North American influence to the product. At the same time he doesn’t want the brand to become Americanized. “Part of the allure of the brand is the French mountaineering heritage. It’s what differentiates us from the other technical apparel companies on the shelf,” he said.

Frederick has been working on the expansion of the sales force, last week appointing Philippe Muller, the currently Eider rep for the Rockies, as Western Sales Manager.

Also, Barry Galvin, who has been working as an independent rep with Volkl and Tecnica, is representing the Northwest Region. David Russell has been reassigned to New England after working for Eider the two seasons in the New York Metro area. E.J. Rearden is the new rep for Mid-Atlantic, replacing Russell.