Swiss mountain safety and outdoor company Mammut is investing heavily in its United States operation, with plans to expand its brand presence at ski resorts, in addition to expanding its sales territory and overall staff.
Mammut has almost quadrupled its revenue in the past four years in North America, according to North American General Manager Kris Kuster, and the company’s ambitions are to hit the $100-million mark in revenue in the region by 2028.
Before Mammut was sold to private equity firm Telemos Capital in 2022, it was a public company in Switzerland and reported earnings. In 2020, Mammut’s global sales were 218 million in Swiss Francs, which is equivalent to about $238.4 million at current exchange rates.
“We’re in the high double-digits (for revenue) in North America,” said Kuster. “We need to get over that triple-digit million amount to meet the goals of our mother company and owners, Telemos. There is quite a lot of pressure.”
Kuster spoke with The Daily about the growth of the business, its wholesale strategy, and plans for future innovation.
Mammut Growth Story
Earlier this month, the company announced expanded sales partnerships in regions across the U.S., including the Pacific Northwest, the Southwest, the Rocky Mountains, and the Southeast.
Founded in 1862 in Seon, Switzerland, Mammut employs more than 40 workers in North America.
Mammut operates a warehouse in Williston, Vermont, and an office in Denver, Colorado, which function as dual North American headquarters. According to Kuster, the plan is to expand to 50 employees by next year.
The company is growing, with revenue up about 20% compared to last year. The company has been able to achieve that growth without massive markdowns and kept its products full-price, Kuster said.
He’s proud of how Mammut has managed its inventory in the current economic climate, although some of the company’s categories have fared better than others.
For Spring-Summer preorders, the apparel segment grew 50%, while Mammut’s footwear has not sold well.
Mammut Footwear Revamp
In April 2003, Mammut purchased Swiss hiking boot company Raichle. The boots Raichle makes are not what’s in fashion now in North America, Kuster said, where many hikers want trail shoes that aren’t as heavy.
In Switzerland, where the terrain can be steeper and more demanding than, say, a forest hike in Colorado, the boots made sense, Kuster said.
“Here you don’t like the clunky hiking boots. We missed that trend of lighter and faster,” he said. “But we’re catching up and revamping the whole footwear line for Spring-Summer 2025.”
Partnering with Resorts
Mammut is known for its avalanche safety and climbing products, and the trust consumers have in its hardgoods has helped translate into success in more categories, including apparel, according to Kuster.
That’s helped the company land partnerships with resorts like Jackson Hole, Snowbird, Copper Mountain, and Mt. Bachelor to provide uniforms for staff.
But Mammut doesn’t just want to be a uniform provider. “We want to be a resort partner,” he said. Through the resort partnerships, Mammut has seen more brand penetration and exposure at these ski areas, according to Kuster.
For example, Mammut has partnered with Copper Mountain in Colorado to create an all-inclusive learn to ski or snowboard scholarship package to reduce barriers to entry into snowsports.
“All of the sudden you see the brand is really present there,” Kuster said. “We want (the exposure) through these resorts in the mountains as a true mountain sports brand.”
Kuster is trying to communicate Mammut’s high-performance, technical know-how to consumers “because once people wear it and use it, they’re sold,” he said.
If people want to wear Mammut in the city, that’s a bonus. “If that happens, that happens,” Kuster said. “But that’s not an aspiration of ours. If you walk your dog and you want to wear a GORE-TEX jacket from us, great. But it’s still made to perform really well in the elements.”
That premium performance image also plays into Mammut’s pricing strategy. Outdoor enthusiasts can buy cheaper gear and apparel on Amazon, Kuster said, and Mammut doesn’t compete there on price. Instead, the brand’s goal is to elevate performance once that person has a taste for the activity.
The entry price point for Mammut ski pants is around $400, for example. “We’re on the mid to higher end of price,” Kuster said. “We want to bring more people into the sport, but we’re probably the brand you go to after you have your first experience, and you really like the sport.”
Mammut’s Wholesale and E-Commerce Strategy
Mammut has a true omnichannel strategy, according to Kuster, with the intention of being exactly where consumers are looking for the brand. Kuster admits that Mammut is late to the game on e-commerce – five years ago the brand didn’t have it – and he’s been playing catch-up.
Now e-commerce makes up about 25% of Mammut’s revenue, but growth in that channel is so expensive that Kuster needs to finance it beyond direct-to-consumer sales.
“We still want to focus on being that really solid partner for our key retail accounts,” Kuster said. Outdoor specialty retailers, particularly those at resorts, are Mammut’s focus in the next three years.
That’s not to say they’re neglecting marketplaces like Amazon, because “that’s where consumers shop, if we like it or not,” Kuster said. “They have a lot of rules, and they’re very expensive to work with as well, but the consumers are there.”
Mammut’s Amazon strategy is to provide an assortment of products that maintain the brand’s pricing and integrity.
Owing to the overall cost, Mammut doesn’t have any plans to operate any branded retail stores soon.
Instead, it will be opening five factory outlet centers across the United States in the next five years, starting with one in Castle Rock, Colorado, next year.
The outlet option gives Mammut more control over the closeout pricing and adds a better margin, Kuster said.
“Right now, we have retailers who are asking for 60%, 70%, 80% off wholesale,” he added. “Imagine what that means for your bottom line. You’re dead.”
The e-commerce channel isn’t big enough for the brand to move its closeout items, and retail accounts asking for those large percentages is “just not sustainable for a healthy business to keep everybody employed,” according to Kuster.
Moving into 2024, Kuster emphasized that Mammut’s three priorities for the brand are sustainability, safety, and DEI.
The company is also using some of the additional revenue it generated during the COVID-19 pandemic to update its Barryvox avalanche beacon to make it Bluetooth-enabled and add more features. Mammut spent about $12 million developing the new beacon, Kuster said. He praised the functionality of that piece of gear, with its wide search radius. “We’re reinvesting that money into more innovations,” Kuster added.
Another item Mammut is excited about is a helmet that is safety-certified for three activities: climbing, backcountry skiing, and cycling. Not only is it safety-rated, but, according to Kuster, the helmet looks good for each of those activities.
The third product innovation is the core it has built into its ropes, which prevents breakage on granite and sandstone. Mammut is also planning to use the nylon from old, recycled ropes to make fabrics for apparel, including jackets.
Bart Schaneman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.