VAN NUYS, CA (BRAIN) — Continuing economic concerns, particularly in Europe, coupled with back-to-back tough snow seasons led to inflated retail inventories and flat sales during the third quarter for Easton-Bell Sports.
Sales for the quarter totaled $213.3 million, up a modest 0.3 percent from $212.5 million last year. Through the first nine months of the year, Easton-Bell reported a gain of $15.9 million, or 3 percent, with sales of $643.6 million.
In the Action Sports division, sales were down $6.4 million or 6.7 percent during the quarter. The segment encompasses Easton-Bell’s bicycle business including helmets, components and accessories under the Easton, Bell, Giro and Blackburn brands, as well as snowsports and powersports equipment.
Officials attributed most of that $6.4 million drop to declines in sales of snow helmets and goggles—its snow business was down 30 percent—and lower sales of Bell and Giro specialty cycling helmets.
“The strength of recent product launches and expanded distribution, which accounted for another quarter of double-digit sales growth in Bell powersports helmets and increased sales of cycling accessories to the mass channel, were offset by declines in sales of snow helmets and goggles and lower sales of Bell and Giro specialty cycling helmets reflective of competitive pressures in the channel,” said Mark Tripp, chief financial officer, during an earnings conference call.
Overall, favorable weather worldwide and the excitement of the London Summer Olympics drove sales across the cycling category, said Paul Harrington, president and CEO.
The company unveiled a new women’s line of high performance road and mountain bike helmets under the Giro brand during the quarter, and Harrington said the Giro line of cycling footwear continues to benefit from expanded distribution and product offerings. “In particular, the Giro Privateer shoe has been extremely well received,” Harrington said about the mountain bike shoe that retails for $150.
Harrington said retail inventories are healthy for cycling products and average prices have held for both Giro and Bell brands across all channels.
“We’ve had a good cycling year,” Harrington added. “It’s more of Europe where we had softness. Across the U.S., sales have been consistent from the IBD retailer to sporting goods to the mass. I would say it’s been a good, solid season.”
Asked about whether the recent headlines on doping in cycling would affect business, Harrington said he sees no impact on participation.
“It will affect how we go to market and how relevant the Tour is, our sponsorships and things like that,” Harrington said. “I don’t see it affecting the participation in cycling. Clearly, people watched the high-end and the performance teams, but people want to get fit and it’s a lifestyle.”
Meanwhile, Europe continues to impact the company’s overall financial performance. Sales to Europe were down $4.5 million or 15 percent for the quarter. Through September, sales to that market were down $3.5 million or 4.7 percent.