Mammut Sports Group continued to grow sales in the United States last year even as the overall market shrank, the Swiss outdoor sporting goods brand reported last week.


Mammuts global sales rose 11.8% in 2009 to 215.3 million Swiss Francs, or $198.9 million, in what amounted to one of the few bright spots for the Swiss conglomerate Conzetta GBH, which owns a collection of engineering, materials and real estate businesses.  U.S. sales growth was even higher, said Bill Supple, CEO of Mammut Sports Group Inc. in Shelburne, VT, which oversees sales of the Mammut brand in North America and Toko sales in the United States.


In an exclusive interview with The B.O.S.S. Report, Supple said Mammut saw double-digit growth across all categories in the U.S., with growth accelerating in hardgoods thanks in part to the success of its Lucido line of headlamps.


I think as consumers see us in multiple categories that has fueled demand, Supple said of Mammuts performance in North America. There are a number of dealers growing our clothing line. He said they will pick up nearly 30 new accounts this winter.


Supple said Mammut should be able to sustain the growth in 2010 thanks in part to growing orders for its headlamps, especially from REI.  He also detects growing optimism among independent outdoor dealers. Many have told him that while their sales declined last year, their margins improved.


Like its dealers, Mammut is ordering much more conservatively. The company is less likely to chase in-season business than two or three years ago when many outdoor brands could count on late orders from dealers who had missed pre-season deadlines.


I dont see retailers going back to the old way of doing business, he said. Many used this recession to really consider how they operate. That’s just now working its way through the system. Our margins are much improved also. There is a lot less close-outs and we are trying to plan better and really not have as much available in season.                     


In a marked departure from a year ago, not many dealers are adjusting their spring/summer orders prior to delivery.


We anticipate coming out of summer 2010 in very good shape and are basing our winter 2010-11 buy on that, he said.


Globally, Mammut saw the biggest growth in snow and alpine/mountain apparel, the Barryvox alpine rescue device and its line of headlamps.


Mammuts footwear collection, which incorporates Raichle technology, was reportedly well received, while sales of Toko branded products declined primarily due to lower clothing sales.


Sales growth was strong in Germany, Switzerland, Italy and even Great Britain, where Scottish ski areas saw epic snow. Sales also grew in the newer markets of Japan and Korea, where Mammut is focusing on adding dealers. Conversely, adverse exchange rates stunted the business in Eastern Europe.


Mammut invested 4.5 million Swiss francs in property, plant and equipment and tangible assets, down 16.6% from 2009 and 26.2% from 2008. Employment rose to 348 people in 2009 from 331 in 2008.