Those who lead an active lifestyle are bound to have come across Amer Sports—a Finnish sporting goods company that stocks a whole portfolio of leading international brands.
Introducing new sporting trends like padel to the European playing field calls for effective teamwork—and the logistics are no exception.
On a green court about half the size of a tennis court, the ball is played back and forth in a rally. One smash of the ball and it goes out? Not in this sport. It bounces against a glass wall that’s about four meters high and drops back onto the court. Play goes on.
This sport, known as padel, can be best described a mixture of tennis and squash. The game is always played in doubles on a grass or artificial turf court that measures 20 meters long and 10 meters wide. Like in tennis, there is a net over which the players hit the ball back and forth. The difference is, the players must not hit the ball over the high walls surrounding the court—a bit like squash. Balls similar to tennis balls are used, but with a little less pressure to prevent them from bouncing too high on the rebound. The ball hits the solid face of the racket, which is covered with small holes. Made of fiberglass, the rackets are not dissimilar to paddles, which is what gives the sport its name.
Padel has been gaining popularity in South and Central America and even in the US and Canada since as early as the 1960s. In Europe, it’s big in Spain and Portugal. The first Padel World Championship was held in 1992, and there is even a Pro Tour that began in 2005. In Central Europe, however, the sport is still relatively unknown. According to the German Tennis Association, Germany has only about 40 padel facilities and fewer than 2,000 active players.
DACHSER offers us a blanket solution for shipments from all of our logistics centers. It doesn’t matter if we’re shipping products from one of our warehouses in Germany, France, Finland, or Scotland—we know the DACHSER standards we’re getting, and they’re identical and binding throughout EuropeSebastian Chrometzka, Transportation Manager EMEA at Amer Sports
Brands for sports lovers
For some time now, DACHSER has been handling transportation of Wilson-brand balls and rackets for this new trend sport across Europe. Wilson is a brand primarily known to tennis and golf enthusiasts, but the company was quick to recognize padel’s potential in Central and Northern Europe. Wilson is a subsidiary of the Finnish sporting goods company Amer Sports. And while the name of this Helsinki-based company might be known only known to a select few, most athletes are familiar with the brands other than Wilson that come under the Amer umbrella. Winter sports lovers will undoubtedly be familiar with the ski manufacturer Atomic, while fans of the great outdoors are partial to apparel from the Canadian specialist Arc’teryx and are fond of the French brand Salomon. Swedish company Peak Performance combines sport with fashion. And Suunto, which has its headquarters in Vantaa near Helsinki, is known for its sports watches and dive computers.
Many of these products are delivered to sporting goods retailers throughout Europe from DACHSER’s Überherrn logistics center in Saarland, which sits right on the Franco-German border. Amer Sports Europe Services operates one of its distribution centers just a stone’s throw away. At its warehouse there, Amer Sports stocks mainly Wilson and Arc’teryx goods, and handles returns of Salomon items.
However, rapid growth means the warehouse is often stretched to its limits. Thankfully, DACHSER’s Überherrn facility is just next door. It plays a special role in the DACHSER network because, in addition to regular branch operations, the logistics center serves as a Eurohub by night—making it one of three major DACHSER hubs for European groupage handling. Every month, it distributes almost 70,000 metric tons of goods to 228 locations across Europe. European shipments dovetail with the services of DACHSER Air & Sea Logistics, which also operates out of the Überherrn branch. In addition to the transit terminal, the logistics center offers a storage area of 60,000 m2 to accommodate a total of 100,000 pallets.
Our business has grown with the success of Amer SportsCaroline Schäfer, Key Account Manager European Logistics at DACHSER
A single source for big-league sports logistics
DACHSER began working with Amer Sports in 2007 and their partnership has been gradually expanding ever since. For more than five years, DACHSER has been handling distribution of the Wilson brand’s palletized goods almost single-handedly; its Überherrn branch is the perfect place for it. “Our business has grown with the success of Amer Sports,” says Caroline Schäfer, Key Account Manager European Logistics at DACHSER. A large quantity of containers with tennis balls, rackets, shoes, and climbing equipment now arrive in Überherrn every day, most of them from the Far East. DACHSER stores anything that Amer Sports can’t initially process in its own warehouse—mainly tennis balls. “The big advantage is that we’re within shouting distance of each other, which means we can respond in no time at all,” Schäfer says.
From Überherrn, goods are shipped to brick-and-mortar stores as well as online retailers. While many physical stores had to close for varying periods of last year, online sales of sporting goods boomed as many people rediscovered their love of running and other outdoor sports during lockdown. Online sales of shoes and weatherproof clothing meant that the pandemic barely affected the movement of such goods. With its closely interconnected European network, DACHSER assumes a host of other logistics tasks on behalf of Amer Sports, such as transporting Wilson-brand padel rackets from Spain to Überherrn ready for further distribution. For the outdoors brand Arc’teryx, DACHSER organizes collection of goods from the Amer Sports repair center in Switzerland. And it ships Suunto sports watches from Vantaa in Finland to wholesalers throughout Europe. In addition, starting in October 2021, DACHSER’s Ainring location near Salzburg will supply winter sports enthusiasts across Europe with ski equipment from the Amer Sports brands Atomic and Salomon.
Another mainstay of DACHSER’s partnership with the company is at the Amer Sports warehouse just outside the French city of Lyon. From here, DACHSER handles the delivery of Salomon products—Amer Sports’s largest and most successful brand—to resellers in Central and Eastern Europe, Benelux, and the Nordic countries. “DACHSER offers us a blanket solution for shipments from all of our logistics centers. It doesn’t matter if we’re shipping products from one of our warehouses in Germany, France, Finland, or Scotland—we know the DACHSER standards we’re getting, and they’re identical and binding throughout Europe,” says Sebastian Chrometzka, Transportation Manager EMEA at Amer Sports. “Basically, we like that we have a central point of contact at DACHSER. She’s like our team captain who takes the lead in coordinating our business with her local DACHSER colleagues in the branches.”
As the landscape in the retail sector shows clear signs of change, brand stores in city centers will play an increasingly important role. For that reason, Amer Sports plans to open additional stores specifically for the Salomon and Peak Performance brands. “This is where DACHSER really comes into its own with city-center deliveries,” Schäfer says. DACHSER Emission-Free Delivery is the name of the company’s innovative concept for zero-emission city-center deliveries using electrically assisted cargo bikes and all-electric delivery vehicles. Over the next two years, DACHSER will be rolling this initiative out in at least eleven European cities.
DACHSER also manages the challenges associated with Brexit on behalf of Amer Sports. Wilson-brand golfing gear and other equipment, which is shipped to the EU from Scotland, requires special attention in this regard. More complex customs regulations arising from the UK’s withdrawal from the EU mean that Amer Sports now ships the goods in bundles to northern France for customs clearance. From its Carvin branch in the Pas-de-Calais department, DACHSER France then ensures that the palletized goods are fed into the EU distribution network. Schäfer has noticed that these volumes, too, have seen a sharp increase compared with last season, something she attributes to the current situation: “As a sport people can play while adhering to social-distancing rules, golf is enjoying greater popularity during the pandemic.”
In the future, Amer Sports is set to widen its reach even further. Since 2019, the company has belonged to a consortium led by Chinese sportswear giant Anta Sports, one of the world’s largest sportswear companies. Anta Group is currently focusing on establishing the Salomon and Arc’teryx brands in its home country. It’s a real possibility that DACHSER will at some point be instrumental in helping the padel trend take off in China.