During the ISPO trade show in Munich, we got the chance to chat with Giulio Colombo, managing director of the Italian sportswear and activewear brand Colmar. He speaks about the current situation of the market for sportswear goods, Colmar’s strategy plans, store openings and also the necessary ingredients for successful retailing today. Interview by Lorenzo Molina

Why are you exhibiting at ISPO?
It’s the biggest show in Europe for sports and therefore a must-attend one.

What kind of clients have you met so far?
We have a lot of Italian customers coming as there’s no specialized sports trade show in Italy, but our aim is to meet international clients.

Which ones are the most interesting for Colmar now?
European countries are, apart from Italy, where the brand is more developed, so it’s kind of easy to get in touch here. What we are trying to push are far markets like the Asian ones or the US. For instance, I was at the SIA snow show in Denver last week, reference platform in our business field.

Colmar opened the first Colmar Lab in Milan last October. Where do you plan new monobrand openings in 2015?
Last year, we inaugurated two stores in Korea. For the ongoing one, a roll-out in Osaka, Japan, is already planned and will be the very first one in that country. Parallel to this, we’re also evaluating other places that can be suitable for us, always being very careful to choose the right place in the right market.

How do you see the current market situation for sports- and activewear?
In Europe, business is affected in several countries due to the financial crisis. Still I’m quite positive and optimistic about our brand and its development in the near future.

How is the situation in your home market, Italy?
Not easy. In addition to the economy difficulties, the weather this season –a very mild winter without almost snow- hasn’t helped at all. Active- and performance collections numbers are good.  This problem is affecting mostly the sales of skiwear, but the season is not finished so we improve our numbers in February.

Entrance to the Colmar booth at ISPO Munich 2015
Entrance to the Colmar booth at ISPO Munich 2015

Do you plan to expand the product portfolio?
No. We are focused on improving our skiwear- and golf ranges together with Colmar Originals, which is our fashion-minded collection. Any further collections are planned for now.

You currently sell 75% to Italy and 25% to other countries. In which markets is your growth focus at this moment?
Exactly, that’s why our focus is to increase our exports outside of Italy. France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and general Western Europe are our first targets.

What are the necessary ingredients for successful retailing today?
A nice product, offering always something updated by investing in technical research. Quality and of course price. It is kind of a balance between all these ingredients. We are facing a more mature consumer with a wide range of options out there, so if you want to sell you need to join aesthetics, performance and price. This is at least what we are trying to do: bring products that fulfill these requirements.