Thursday, August 29, 2013

SAFTAD show stays popular

Despite complaints about the economy, the annual SAFTAD fishing tackle trade show keeps on growing: this year a full house of 50 exhibitors showed their goods to representatives from 256 Southern African companies.

That means that nearly 40% of South African suppliers of fishing related products exhibited and more than 20% of retailers across the country who sell some form of fishing gear (including clothing or accessories) travelled to the annual show in Johannesburg over the weekend of 17-18 August.

Access is strictly controlled to admit only trade visitors, and about 90% of the close to 700 visitors were retailers. This is about 50% more than the number of retailers who annually visit the EFTTEX tackle trade show in Europe.

The popular brands distributed by Adrenalin Fishing, like Italian brand Alcedo and Hokkaido lures, attracted many visitors.
Goya Trading had plenty of baits and lures to show visitors – from their own Goya range to one of the world’s largest bait brands, Marukyu, to US plastic bait brand Netbait, European lure brand Salmo, etc.

While representatives from fewer companies registered on Sunday (101 compared to 155 on Saturday), the usual Sunday rush was experienced as many visitors who registered on Saturday, returned on Sunday (visitors are only counted once).

The new event safety regulations – e.g. aisles must be 2m wide throughout – resulted in 6-7 last-minute potential exhibitors being turned away. After being made aware of the new stringent regulations only a few weeks before the show, SAFTAD had to have new fire-retardant stand dividers made and introduced additional first aid, security and control measures.

The award-winning new products showed on the Rapala VMC SA stand was a drawcard for many visitors.
Fatiema Motala and Rashida Mall welcomed the visitors to Sensational Angling’s large stand.

Apart from showing the latest fishing gear, the trade show offers the ideal opportunity for comparing notes on market conditions. The consensus was that trading was tough – but, several suppliers were positive and reported that many retailers were trading well. Several suppliers also reported that sales of higher end merchandise were less affected than at the lower end, where consumers had less money to spend on non-essentials and were more affected by rising unemployment figures.

The South African market is overtraded, was a concern expressed by Mike Philip of The Kingfisher. “One has to work extra hard to promote your brands,” he says. “In the end, good service to the customer makes the difference.”

Mike Phillip of The Kingfisher introducing their many new products, including the new Korda’s Carp Goo soak, spod-mix, additive developed by Loutjie Louwies to provoke a strong feeding response in carp.

Lindie Wagener and Duran Rich fielded questions about the new T-Line Pro monofilament line in 0.20-3.60mm following upgrades to their manufacturing plant. They also showed the increased knot strength from imported dies and bulk offer spools.

Many suppliers expressed concern about the prospect of price increases over the next year from Asian manufacturers.

 “We’ve absorbed some of the costs so far, but we cannot do that indefinitely,” says Graham Hills of Pure Fishing SA. While he agrees that the market is quiet, and some retailers suffer, he adds that some retailers delivered standout performances.

He also confirmed that they will be distributing Greys & Hardy in Southern Africa, following the international acquisition of the iconic UK fly fishing brands by Jarden Corporation’s Pure Fishing division. Dave Levine, a veteran in the fly fishing market, will be assisting them with this range.

Although Pure Fishing has not been active in the fly fishing market, Hills believes the company will benefit globally from adding these well-known brands to their stable. For example, their existing brands and Greys & Hardy will all benefit from a transfer of technologies – like their award-winning reel technology and the unique Sintrix rod technology that Hardy & Grey have the rights to.

New products in the extensive Pure Fishing ranges that generated interest included the premium quality Berkley Maxx monofilament line, the Jerk and Flat Dawg soft baits introduced in the Berkley Havoc range, a new Penn Squall Performance Casting range and the Abu Garcia Revo Rocket with a blistering fast 9:1 gear ratio.
Zubair Vally of Striking Angling was proved right that baits are popular stock items as anglers have to replace them all the time by the number of visitors interested in their extensive range.

Not everybody, however, agree that the higher end merchandise have been selling better. During the past season they sold more mid-range rods and reels, below R1 000, not the high end products, says Lionel Crow of Okuma Fishing Africa.

 Akals, which is part of the Midas Group, is now known as Okuma Fishing Africa, because Okuma is one of the fastest growing brands in the world, explains Lionel Crow. With this name change the South African distributors followed the example of distributorships in the US, Europe and Australia.

Lionel Crow was on hand to demonstrate products like the new MicroWave Guide System that generated plenty of interest on the Okuma Fishing Africa stand.

The Tecni Perline line developed with the help of some of South Africa’s top anglers attracted a lot of interest on the Tecni-Sport stand.

Howard Joscelyne of Apex Jarvis Walker agrees that middle price point products sell better – while sales in the top end of their ranges were down, middle range products sold well during the winter months. But, as soon as the weather started improving, the orders started coming in. “We’ve had really good orders since the beginning of August,” he says.

WET Sports Importers are also fairly upbeat about trading conditions – despite the economy. We wrote some good orders and were happy with the interest in our products, says Andrew Wentzel. “Many fishing guys are seeing an uptick in their businesses and some of them are very positive.”

The WET Sports Importers team were upbeat about trading conditions. From left to right Patrick Franck, Andrew Wentzel, Darryl Wentzel and their new Gauteng agent Darryl Dickerson.

Madelaine Joubert and Morris van Staden of Lumé Fishing Lures introduced visitors to the new products in their synthetic handmade lure range, which is as buoyant as wooden products.
Their fishing ranges have been growing yearly, and there were again several new products to see on their stand.

Apart from placing orders, the show offers an opportunity to introduce new agents to retailers, and WET Sports Importers made use of the opportunity to introduce their new Gauteng agent, Darryl Dickerson, to the visitors.

Brentoni Distributors introduced their new agent,  Andries Steyn, with 15 years’ experience in the optical business, representing other well-known brands.  He will be jointly responsible (with Paula Hemmings) for sales outside the Western and Eastern Cape.

Rob Beamish (middle) of Brentoni Distributors introduced their new super lightweight and very comfortable metal framed Ballistics sunglasses, as well as the eight new plastic styles to visitors. Their new agent, Andries Steyn, is right and Western and Eastern Cape agent Alistair Barnes left.

Gareth Adams of Stealth Fly Fishing was one of the most optimistic and enthusiastic exhibitors. “It has been a good year,” he says, whilst acknowledging that the industry and market is changing. “One must move with the changes - the days when you could sell R7 000 fly rods are gone,” he says. “We now sell more for less.”

In the coming year he is hoping to give a boost to the fly fishing market with a dedicated show, and with workshops to attract new customers like women and young people to the sport.
He has already been involved with youth clinics at schools and black empowerment clinics for Mpumalanga workers in order to try and gain new fly fishing converts.

The new Smith Optics eyewear range with the Polarchromic lens that ensure crisp images and soothing light levels, were among the many top brand products that attracted attention on the Stealth Fly Fishing stand.
New products locally developed for the Xplorer Fly Fishing range and international award-winning fly fishing products attracted visitors to the Jandi Trading stand.

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International views at SAFTAD

Representatives from six global brands this year attended the SA Fishing Tackle Agents and Distributors (SAFTAD) trade show as guests of their local distributors. They shared their views on global trading conditions in the fishing industry.

Globally, fishing markets are down – except in China, where it is growing, says Masazumi Miyazawa, commercial director Europe and Africa of the major fishing bait company Marukyu. He was on the stand of their local distributor, Goya Trading, where he was joined by former Tackle Trade World editor Nick Marlow. He now works “on the other side of the industry” for Marukyu Europe and Africa CEO John Loftus, a former Shimano MD.

 “The market in Europe is dying,” says Miyazawa. Japan is still recovering from the effects of the Tsunami, he adds.

He found the European fishing tackle trade show, EFTTEX, very quiet this year - although it was better than what he anticipated.  But, he was impressed with the SAFTAD show and anticipated that their products would do very well in the South African specimen carp market.

Masazumi Miyazawa, commercial director of Marukyu Europe and Africa, was on the Goya Trading stand

Dave Bulthuis, vice-president global sales at Costa del Mar visited SAFTAD as guest of their new Southern African distributor, Rapala VMC SA. “We needed a bigger distributor that could grow our products faster in South Africa and into Africa,” he explains the need for a change. 

“I’ve known Mark [Pledger, of Rapala VMC SA] for many years through the international group.”
Founded thirty years ago, the Costa del Mar brand is well-known amongst anglers across the world and this year their Tuna Alley frame won the Best Eyewear award at the ICAST show. The flagship 580 patented technology removes yellow light and visual noise, explains Bulthuis, ensuring a clear, crisp, lens and colour saturation.

 “The customer who is prepared to spend R3 000 on a reel, also wants good equipment for something that is so much more important, namely his eyes. To have fishing success, you must be able to see better,” says Pledger.

Dave Bulthuis, vice-president global sales for Costa Del Mar, with Mark Pledger of their new Southern African distributor, Rapala VMC SA

Australian eyewear brand Mako also had international representatives on the stand of their new Southern African distributor, Mustfish. Global brand manager Daniel Burgess and marketing manager Dominic Wiseman know their new distributor Lloyd Pereira from his days at AJF Agencies, who used to distribute the brand before becoming a diving specialist.
Apart from enjoying some fishing, they could take the pulse of the South African market, which they believe faces the same issues as most international markets – tough trading, unfavourable exchange rates, customs, etc.

While fishing is their core market, Mako sunglasses are widely used for all activities, says Burgess. Their insect repellent and mirror coating placed on the inside of the lens to prevent scratching and the hardy materials used in the frames make them especially popular.

Mako international brand manager Daniel Burgess and marketing manager Dominic Wiseman visited their new distributor Lloyd Pereira of Mustfish.

Mustfish also hosted Jan Lybekk, the Mustad market manager from Norway, who says that the hook brand is doing well in South Africa, and that he has high hopes that the new distributor will grow it stronger than ever before. “Lloyd understands the market and gives us good feedback.”

But, he acknowledges that the whole EMEA region is experiencing tough trading conditions, with pricing and remaining competitive major challenges. “But, I see an improvement this year.”

Jan Lybekk, international market manager for Mustad, is happy with the performance of the brand under their Southern African distributor, Mustfish.

The American market, on the other hand, is already well on the way to recovery, reports Peter Foley, a regular visitor to SAFTAD and the Apex Walker Brands stand, distributors of his Boone Bait brand. “The American market is growing overall and several companies reported growth figures of 40% and more,” says Foley, who is also a long-standing American Sportfishing Association (ASA) board member.

In the past financial year monthly sales in his company had every time been ahead of the previous year. While he is happy with the brand’s performance in South Africa, he is aware of the problems created by the exchange rate and the 20% drop in currency.

Peter Foley of Boone Baits is a regular visitor to the Apex Walker Brands stand at SAFTAD.

Apex Walker Brands this year hosted another international visitor - Kevin Saines, director of Jarvis Walker Australia. “The fishing tackle industries have matured in most developed markets – Europe has especially experienced a significant decline, although the US is improving,” he says. And as the world economy is showing signs of improving, consumer confidence is growing, he believes.

Strong products and offering value for money are the keys to success in tough trading conditions, he believes. “Fishermen continue to fish, they just don’t spend as much.” Therefore, consumers would rather spend their money on lines and lures, items with lower purchase values. When the economy is bad, it becomes more difficult to sell top end higher value goods.
Successful companies offer various price points and in South Africa Apex Walker Brands offer a good assortment, he believes.

Fin-nor is a specialist saltwater and Quantum a top quality specialist bass brand, while Rovex, developed in Australia, covers the middle price range. Jarvis Walker offers strong value for money and caters for the budget conscious.

“All of these brands are doing well here,” says Saines.

It is the fifth South African visit of Kevin Saines, director of Jarvis Walker Australia. 


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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Excitement over this year’s Otter Trail Run

The launch of the 2013 Otter Trail was held at the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town on 7 August

On 7 August at the Aquarium in Cape Town members of the media and athletes met contenders of the 2013 Otter Trail Run, aka “The Grail of Trail” (now in it’s 5th year), presented by Salomon, GU Energy, Buff, Suunto and GoPro. This year's Otter Trail Run will take place on the 21/22 September and the Otter Challenge, for the more social trail runner, will take place on 23/24 September.
The launch of the Otter Trail provided the opportunity to showcase the latest trail running gear, perfect for the Otter Trail Run, from Salomon

Salomon S-Lab trail shoes and hydration pack were on display.

Event organiser Mark Collins, from Magnetic South and Earth Scout, as well as e.News weatherman Derek van Dam introduced 2013's Otter Trail to the crowd and athletes Kane Reilly, Landie Greyling and AJ Calitz answered questions after the introduction. 

Race Director Mark Collins introduced the Otter Trail Run
Members from the media and athletes attended this year's launch

The Two Ocean’s Aquarium in Cape Town offered the perfect backdrop for the launch of the Otter Trail Run, which follows the route of the 5-day Otter hiking trail and the Tsitsikama section of the Garden Route National Park, one of South Africa’s major Marine Protected Areas.
Race weatherman and meteorologist Derek van Dam (who will run his first Otter Trail Run this year) presented a breakdown of the weather patterns expected for this years race

The Otter Trail Run, a marathon distance run through the unspoilt wilderness coastline, is seen as one of the top trail runs that athletes can participate in. Part of the allure of the race is that the Otter Trail itself is off limits to trail runners outside of the event. The event is held in opposite directions (East to West and thereafter West to East) each year. Last year the event was held West to East (called Retto, Otter spelt backwards) and saw athletes finish in record-breaking times – 4hours 23min by Iain Dan Wauchope closely followed by AJ Calitz.  

This year follows the original route from East to West and the question is “Can the Otter Classic also be run in under 4hours 30minutes and the standing Otter record, currently held by Ryan Sandes, be broken?”

Kane Reilly, Landie Greyling and AJ Calitz are amongst the athletes expected to perform at this year's event 

Collins says that the event is “a celebration of one of South Africa’s coastal treasures, the Tsitsikamma National Park,” which extends through the marine protected area which reaches 5km out to sea and is of immeasurable benefit to every single South African. The organisers of the event also align themselves with the Landmark Foundation, an organisation committed to the conservation of the Cape’s Leopards. 

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