Adidas abandons slopes with deal to sell Salomon ski brand for £330m

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The Independent Online

Adidas-Salomon has abandoned its attempt to conquer the winter sports market and decided to sell its struggling Salomon arm to Finland's Amer Sports for about€485m (£330m).

Adidas-Salomon has abandoned its attempt to conquer the winter sports market and decided to sell its struggling Salomon arm to Finland's Amer Sports for about€485m (£330m).

Eight years after acquiring Salomon, the French ski equipment specialists, Adidas is to return to its athletic roots, the German company announced yesterday. From 2006, it will rechristen itself Adidas, after its founder, Adolph Dassler.

Herbert Hainer, the chairman and chief executive of Adidas, said: "Now is the time to focus even more on our core strength in the athletic footwear and apparel market as well as the growing golf category."

The group has lacked the scale to make a big push into the winter sports market amid a global decline in demand for ski equipment. Salomon, which makes most of its products in France, has also been hit by the soaring value of the euro. Its first-quarter operating losses widened to €25m from €16m a year ago on sales down 9 per cent.

Buying Salomon will make Amer Sports, which makes Wilson tennis rackets, the world's biggest maker of ski equipment. As well as Salomon, the Finnish group, which owns the Atomic brand, is buying the Bonfire snowboarding label. It is also acquiring the French group's Arc'Teryx technical outdoor wear label, its Mavic bicycle component maker and Cliché, which makes skateboards.

Yesterday Adidas-Salomon beat expectations with a 64 per cent jump in first-quarter profits to €105m on the back of strong growth in Asia and North America. In Europe, it registered a 1 per cent decline in orders, although it said it was winning market share from its countrymate and rival, Puma.

Adidas's sale of Salomon is the latest deal in a flurry of consolidation that so far this year has seen Quiksilver, the US surfwear giant, buy France's Skis Rossignol. The Volkl, Nordica and Marker ski brands have also changed hands in the past 12 months.

Under its German owners, the Salomon brand has been stretched in recent years to include inline skating and hiking footwear and clothing.

The only part of the Salomon stable that Adidas is not selling is TaylorMade, the American golfing specialist. The German group recently bolstered its share of the expanding golf market by buying the Maxfli and Slazenger Golf brands.

The disposal values Salomon at about€485m, although the final purchase price is yet to be ironed out. The deal is subject to competition approval in the US and the European Union and is expected to complete in September.

Roger Talermo, the chief executive of Amer Sports, said buying Salomon would open up "great potential" for the Finnish group. But the restructuring programme that Salomon kicked off in December with the loss of 160 French jobs will continue, he added.

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