Please provide an overview of how 2022/23 is shaping up for your brand.
We are looking ahead to season 22/23 with confidence – the impact of the pandemic on our business contained and orders are again approaching our record year in 2019. We will start the season 22/23 with a great and strong mix of new products and carry-overs developed in close coordination with our business partners to provide a good selection for both, retailers who need to fill up their inventories and for retailers that have a good season despite the effects of the pandemic.
Everyone has been affected by impacts from Covid-19 in one way or another. Have you had to change manufacturing or sourcing processes and can you explain any good examples of how your business has pivoted effectively?
We have not had any changes in terms of manufacturing or sourcing processes. In general, despite the effects of the pandemic in the previous season, we see pretty much a V-shaped recovery in the main markets, as well as extremely strong results in overseas regions like Japan and the US, where we have the strongest results since ever. Therefore we see no need to pivot our business model.
Carry-over was a hot topic for 21/22 boards. Where did your brand sit on the matter and has this changed for 22/23?
HEAD Snowboards has been following a clear carry-over / new models strategy for some years already, with basically a “never-out-of-stock” program. This has helped retailers in the past years in terms of forwarding planning and risk management. But especially for the 22/23 season, we decided to double some of the best-selling board designs, where we offer a new and a carry-over version, leaving it to our partners to decide what the go for. This strategy will be continued as long as needed.
The bricks and mortar model is changing rapidly. How are you working with retailers and your ecommerce channel to ensure as little conflict as possible?
We maintain transparent communication with our dealers regarding our e-commerce plans. To avoid conflicts, we discussed the exact e-com activities with them before the start of the season, whether and which discounts are planned, and at what periods. Generally speaking though, stationary retail is the backbone of our business, offering products online is needed and requested from a consumer perspective, but the main business remains stationary, therefore will be supported with all means.
What’s your company doing to improve its carbon footprint/eco consciousness?
We rethink all our workflows from the beginning to the end – from developing to packaging. By reducing waste and using natural, recycled, and certified raw materials and processes, we are on a good way but we are only at the beginning. But every step counts and sustainability now plays a role in every decision we make. It starts with the smallest measures, such as rethinking packaging by using recycled packaging or eliminating plastic where possible. Already, we are not using polybags where possible, have no more see-through windows on our boxes, offer bulk packaging in rental, use water-based color for our design prints. The presses and cooling system of our manufacturer are solar- powered, our wood cores are FSC certified.As part of the HEAD winter sports family, we leverage the synergies, technologies and innovative approaches of the brand with the goal of becoming the technical market leader for snowboard equipment – and that also through innovative but also sustainable new materials or processes.
Are you using any new materials in your hardware for 22/23? If so, what, and why?
Lighter boards are the name of the game in 22/23. We are using our LYT Board Architecture in the VOY splitboard including a new lightweight wood core design with poplar wood. This weight reduction transfers into boards that are light, yet long-lasting and full of power.
Any big advancements in functionality? Skinning, transitions, etc, as well as riding?
The VOY splitboard comes with pre-cut skins with Fast In Hooks for easy skinning. The board features all the inserts for mounting a splitboard binding snowboard binding. It features tip and tail hooks as well as additional hooks to hold the two sides of the board together when riding downhill. The VOY is designed to give the rider the support and edge hold needed for hiking uphill in all terrains. W have added four additional contact points so it easy to use even when its icy. It’s Hybrid Camber Pop architecture helps you stay in control in all areas of the mountain, while the directional shape of this board is optimized to float above the surface, even in choppy conditions.
Which area of the market do you primarily cater to, price-wise? Has this changed at all in recent times, or is it pretty consistent?
HEAD is traditionally strong on mid- to entry-level price points; in the last two years, we experience a shift towards upper price points – in all categories. Therefore we extended our line and developed new boards with new technologies and features serving this target group. With the VOY Splitboard we are in the lower to middle price segment compared to the splitboard competitors on the market.
Please tell us about the dominant visual themes in your 22/23 gear, including any interesting artist collabs you have lined up?
An outdoor experience is never just black or white – once you set up your gear, it doesn’t matter if you go for the descent of your life or simply enjoy nature while hiking up a rolling hill after work. Our brand new VOY Splitboard stands for easy splitboarding that is also reflected in the simple black and white overall design, with fine details on the topsheet and present VOY logo.
Most brands tell us that selling in store is really important for splitboard gear, as it’s where you can get good advice. Can this be maintained post-COVID, or will you be looking to find more customers online?
We believe that when it comes to splitboarding, it can definitly be helpful to get personal advice in the store, as there may be many open questions and needed clarifications, especially for beginners. But for customers who already have splitboarding experience and are familiar with the process, or for the ones who prefer online shopping in general we think the online purchase is a well-received option as well. To help them with their purchase decision we produced a product video of our VOY splitboard including all the features and also detailed “How To” videos that guide the customer step by step through the processes: How to Change from Hike mode to Ride mode and vice versa & How to Set Up Your Splitboard. These videos will be implemented on our website and our Youtube channel. Of course, those are also used for the sell-in and dealer training in advance.
What are your three biggest European markets for splitboard hardware?
As we are introducing HEAD’s first-ever spitboard in season 22/23 we can only tell you about the current booking situation which looks promising so far. Our biggest markets will be the Alpine regions, as well as Scandinavia.
The new VOY splitboard , including pre-cut skins with Fast In Hooks, is a reliable partner in untracked terrain. The shape of this board has proven itself in the highest level of competitive freeriding, combined with specific splitboarding features. VOY’s Hybrid Camber Pop architecture and directional shape enusres you boars control in any conditions. This is easy splitboarding.