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October/November 2013

International views of the fishing trade

Representatives from six global brands this year attended the SAFTAD trade show as guests of their local distributors. They shared their views on global trading conditions in the fishing industry.

The fishing tackle industries have matured in most developed markets — Europe has especially experienced a significant decline, although the US is improving, says Kevin Saines, director of Jarvis Walker Australia, a visitor on the Apex Walker Brands stand. And as the world economy is showing signs of improving, consumer confidence is growing, he observes.

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.

American market improving

The American market 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.” As a long-standing American Sportfishing Association (ASA) board member, he has good insight in the market.

In the past financial year monthly sales in his company had constantly 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.

Growth in China

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 was impressed with the SAFTAD show and anticipated that their products would do very well in the local specimen carp market.

Eyewear distributors

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.

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.

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.”

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.”

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