CHOPPY WATERS AHEAD As goes Colorado, so goes the rest of the outdoor retail world. A recent article in The Denver Post illustrates how local outdoor gear retailers struggle to stock shelves and control costs due to supply chain woes; those challenges signal tough times for the rest of the country’s outdoor recreation retailers as well. The myriad economic and supply chain challenges facing retailers in all verticals also impact outdoor gear stores, bike shops, paddle-sport retailers, and their suppliers. Retailers like Denver’s Confluence Kayak & Ski contend with inventory shortages—though better than they were last year at this time—as well as economic concerns including inflation, the ripple eect of increased taris on goods imported from China, and a huge uptick in shipping costs, according to The Denver Post . Bentgate Mountaineering reports significant price increases at its store in Golden, Colorado. “That’s price increases from the manufacturers, and then price increases in what they are charging us, as well as setting prices for consumers,” says John Weir, marketing manager for the company. Josh Pecaric, founder of Denver-based Verus Kayaks, told the Post he is nearshoring his firm’s supply chain from China to South Carolina in order to cut costs. Container shipping costs increased from $2,800 to transport a 40-foot shipping container (which can hold 120 kayaks) three or four years ago to $54,000 per container now. “And, believe it or not, it costs only $10 more to make a boat here than it does in China,” Pecaric notes. When it comes to inventory, port delays and previous COVID shutdowns at Chinese manufacturing sites have taken a toll on outdoor retailers. At Neptune Mountaineering in Boulder, footwear inventories are still lagging, and Denver-based Elevation Cycles and Peak Cycles in Golden report inventory is better for mountain bikes than road bikes. Overall, with Colorado serving as the bellwether, the outdoor gear industry seems to be bracing for some rough terrain in the future.
VF Corp.—parent company of several outdoor gear brands including The North Face and Timberland—has upped its commitment to supply chain sustainability. David Quass, the company’s new senior director of sustainability for EMEA, has signaled a greater commitment to environmentally friendly concepts such as regenerative agriculture and using recycled materials. The North Face and Timberland are leading the way on these efforts, he says, and will serve as benchmarks for VF’s other brands. VF Corp. needs to look beyond its own operations, invest in alternative materials to bring them to scale faster, and collaborate with competitors to drive progress on sustainability, Quass recently told Vogue Business . In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and addressing other general sustainability issues, the company aims to run all owned-and-operated facilities on renewable energy and to eliminate single-use plastic packaging by 2025. And by 2030, Quass says, VF hopes to source 100% of its top nine materials from regenerative, responsible, recycled, or renewable sources. KICKING UP SUSTAINABILITY
20 Inbound Logistics • July 2022
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