Mar 21, 2023
Federer-Backed Shoemaker Expects Fast Growth as Tennis Booms
(Bloomberg) -- Swiss sneaker maker On Holding predicted that its tennis and running footwear will drive sales growth of almost 40% this year as the upstart eats into a sports footwear market traditionally dominated by larger rivals Adidas AG and Nike Inc.
The shares rose as much as 30% in New York, the biggest intraday gain since the stock’s first day of trading in September 2021. On’s brisk growth would build on fourth-quarter revenue that almost doubled, widely surpassing analyst estimates.
The company, backed by Swiss champ Roger Federer, is one of a handful of smaller brands experiencing rapid growth in the sports sector and threatening to curb the trajectories of industry mainstays. Other fast-growing brands include Hoka, owned by Deckers Brands, and the Berkshire Hathaway unit Brooks Running.
On expects a boost to earnings this year as it relies less on expensive air freight.
“The supply chain craziness is behind us and our full team can focus on what matters to the customer,” Co-Chief Executive Officer Martin Hoffmann said in an interview Tuesday.
Founded in Switzerland in 2010, On is looking to expand beyond its original target demographic of middle-age athletes, especially runners and triathletes. After achieving explosive growth in Switzerland and across Europe over the last decade, On has increasingly zeroed in on the US market of late, including with its initial public offering in New York in late 2021.
While the US will remain On’s biggest growth engine this year, the company expects to expand in Latin America, Japan and China, which will probably pass the Swiss home market in terms of sales in 2023, Hoffmann said.
On is also increasingly targeting younger customers, whether that’s the Gen-Z demographic that rivals Adidas and Puma SE primarily focus on or even young children, Hoffmann said. On launched a new line of high-priced footwear in recent weeks for kids as young as 4 years old, Hoffmann said.
The company is also expanding its tennis ambitions, signing young stars Iga Świątek — currently the top-ranked female tennis player in the world — and the up-and-coming American player Ben Shelton.
The shoemaker also has plenty of room for growth — especially in the US — as it expands beyond specialty running stores and puts products in bigger retailers like Footlocker and Dick’s Sporting Goods, Hoffmann said.
Based in Zurich, the upstart has avoided the huge inventory problems that are causing rivals including Adidas and Puma to resort to heavy discounting, especially in the US. More than 90% of On’s holiday sales were at full price, Hoffmann said.
Adidas has forecast an especially gloomy 2023, with revenue set to fall as new CEO Bjorn Gulden seeks to orchestrate a turnaround. The company has been marking down prices for many products this year to work through its stockpile of unsold sneakers and apparel.
On had fourth-quarter sales of 367 million Swiss francs ($395 million), 33% higher than the average analyst estimate.
In 2023, the company expects sales to rise by 39%, reaching 1.7 billion francs.
(Updates shares in second paragraph)
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