SAN PIETRO DI STABIO, Switzerland (BRAIN)—Assos of Switzerland has launched a North American subsidiary with its own management team.
The premium road cycling clothing company opened and staffed a warehouse in Chicago, Illinois, to fulfill all orders, and will soon open an office close to New York City.
“The North American market is highly competitive with several players,” said Roche Maier, chief executive officer of Assos of Switzerland. “During the last four years overall sales growth for Assos has averaged around 30 percent. At this point in Assos’ growth, we need to personally manage the sales and marketing of our products. By opening a North American office, our goal is to improve our customer service to retailers and to continue to develop a well respected brand.”
Established in 1976 by Swiss engineer Toni Maier-Moussa, Assos remains owned and managed by the Maier family. Assos clothing is designed in Switzerland and cut and sewn in European facilities predominantly owned by the company. Since introducing the first Lycra cycling short to the market in the 1970s, Assos has earned a cult following for its cycling clothing.
Illinois-based Ochsner International helped establish Assos in North America and has been its contracted distributor for the past 13 years. This relationship ended August 31, and Ochsner picked up Spanish apparel brand Etxeondo.
Assos USA will now handle all sales and distribution for the region. Hans Bergman will manage operations as general manager of Assos North America. Bergman joins the company with more than 15 years of experience developing premium brands within the leisure and sporting goods industries. Pat Flanagan will head consumer and dealer outreach as vice president of sales and marketing for Assos North America. Flanagan has held sales positions with such companies as ZOIC clothing, In Motion Inc., and Clif Bar.
Flanagan hopes to increase consumer awareness by working more closely with select specialty retailers to deliver a clear, concise brand message. He has established a dedicated sales force, with four sales people covering the Northwest, Midwest and Northeast territories, and plans to add more.
“This is a super premium brand, and it takes up a lot of available retail-to-buy from retailers,” Flanagan said. “It warranted people coming in to spend time with dealers and make sure they could see the product and order the product.”