The fashion brand Björn Borg was founded in Sweden in 1989. The tennis legend of the late ’70s Björn Borg gave his name to the collection and still remains a source of inspiration. Underwear is the focus of the brand and its largest category in the marketplace. Björn Borg products are distributed to ten different markets, with Sweden and Netherlands being the most important markets. Since the beginning of 2010, Action Sports has been the new distributor for Germany. Sportswear International recently met its managing director Volker Mettke, who revealed his plans for growing the brand. By Isabel Mühlbauer

You are the new manager of Björn Borg’s new distributor for the German market. What do you think is the potential of Björn Borg, the brand, and how do want to conquer the German market?
In Sweden, the home country of Björn Borg, the label is well-renowned as a fashion label. In Germany we want to start with the underwear line, with which Björn Borg has been performing very successfully in the past. We can profit from the experiences we have made with other European countries we are active in, like the Netherlands. There, Björn Borg has successfully developed out of the underwear line and could then implement step by step other segments like shoes, fashion and lately swimwear. This will also be our strategy for Germany. In the long run, however, we think Björn Borg has the potential to develop into a full fashion brand. We are quite busy at the moment with four sales people and an own brand manager in mind. Until now, we have won 80 customers in Germany; until the next order round-up we want to have 100 customers.

What does the brand Björn Borg stand for? Why do you focus on underwear?
Björn Borg was one of the first rock ’n’ roll tennis players. He used to be different from other stars, he had his own style and didn’t care much about rules — the same attitude we want to convey with our products. They are young, edgy and very colorful; we think it is just right to complement the Bread & Butter fashion portfolio in the segment of underwear. In Sweden Björn Borg is very visible in any lingerie department. Honestly, we want to become what Calvin Klein was in the ’90s.

How do you want to attract the customer’s attention? The brand is not yet very visible in Germany.
We have been attending many trade fairs, with Bread & Butter being the most important one to us. But we have also been to many regional lingerie trade fairs. Besides, we are quite active on the Internet. Here, we are using a lot of party communities to spread our campaigns. That’s where our target groups are. At the moment we are starting a campaign where we are organizing private parties via the Internet. People can take part in a Björn Borg game and win a full-service party package, including a DJ, sound [systems], up to drinks and a cleaning service the day after. The special idea behind this: every guest has to wear a pair of Björn Borg pants which he has to show to the doorman in order to [gain] entrance. We also liked the campaign where we unloaded a huge amount of old underwear in front of the White House some years ago to demonstrate against George W. Bush’s politics. We like to be quite edgy with our brand communication.

Are there any further plans we can communicate to our readers?
Until the next buying season we will completely rework our women’s lingerie collection. At the moment we have a lot of sporty tops. But if you want to demonstrate underwear competence you also need to offer cups and wired bras. [As well,] we want to start our own retail business in Germany by opening a first store in Dusseldorf’s Königsgalerie.