STOCKHOLM, Sweden — For a small company, helmet brand POC is biting off a big chunk this year. At the fall trade shows, POC is diving into the road bike market with new helmet, apparel and eyewear lines.
“Looking at an entrance point for POC in the road bike market was not evident,” Stefan Ytterborn, the company’s founder and CEO, said Monday. The company decided it could differentiate itself with a focus on safety, coupled with high design. “The reality of being a road biker these days is a very hazardous one.”
POC officials invited European and North American retailers and journalists to Stockholm this week for a preview of the lines, which will debut at Eurobike and Interbike.
POC launched its first product, an award-winning ski and snowboard helmet, in 2005. The company later branched into mountain bike helmets and protective gear.
Snowsport sales account for 80 percent of POC’s business today, but Ytterborn said he expects cycling and snowsport sales soon will be evenly divided. The company has been growing by 35 percent a year and is now in 25 international markets.
POC was acquired last year by Black Diamond, a maker of premium climbing and outdoor gear that is based in Salt Lake City, for about $43.5 million. Black Diamond is also gearing up for a multi-million-dollar launch of an outdoor apparel line this year. But Ytterborn said POC’s apparel line was developed totally separately from Black Diamond.
Planning for both lines was well underway at the time of the merger, which was announced in June 2012. The companies have been working to integrate logistics and backend operations but haven’t delved deeply into shared sourcing or product development, Ytterborn said.
POC’s new road helmet, the Octal, will retail for $270. An aero version with a smooth translucent shell will retail for $299. POC also makes a time trial helmet, the Tempor.
The Octal offers a smooth profile without the fins of other helmet makers. POC designed the ventilation so a large percentage of the front of the helmet is open to airflow. The helmet weighs just under 200 grams in a medium size.
POC’s new apparel line will span the needs of most male and female riders, from bibshorts and jerseys to rain and wind jackets.
The helmet, apparel and eyewear lines are scheduled to begin shipping in February 2014.
“We deliberately held back on the road bike scene because we simply haven’t had the capacity,” Ytterborn said. “But road bike is something that we strongly believe in and are extremely passionate about.”