On 27 October, Fischer USA’s Peter Ashley confirmed that Fischer rollerskis will remain exclusive for the Norwegian market. “The roller skis are available in Norway. It’s unsure when they’ll be available in other countries.” He added that Fischer will review their rollerskis’ performance to see if improvements are needed for the shafts or components.
Fischer markets a number of different rollerskis in Norway. Some have an air core shaft; some are aluminum.
Asked if Fischer felt pressure to introduce additional product lines, Ashley replied, “We’re the largest manufacturer of cross-country skis in the world by a long way. We’re going to do a better job with the products we sell. I’m not aware of any interest on their [corporate] part to acquire another brand.”
Andy Canniff, marketing director for Swix Sport USA, takes a different view. Swix is the U.S. distributor for Swenor roller skis. He considers rollerskis as a supplement to Swix’s core business.
“It’s counter-seasonal,” Canniff said of the rollerski market. While Swenor isn’t a significant profit center, “We’re quite pleased with how it’s going.”
If Fischer were to market rollerskis here, they’d be competing for a slice of a small market. While rollerski sales in Norway were estimated to be about 14,000-20,000 pairs per year, sales are lower in the U.S. and difficult to pin down. Estimates of total U.S. sales range between 2500 and 3000 pairs annually.
“That might be a bit high,” said Andy Canniff of the 3000-pair estimate. He speculated that four brands account for approximately 85% of roller sales in the U.S. A reporter counted 10 brands of rollerskis currently available in the U.S.
Taipale, the U.S. distributor for Marwe, said that he sells around 500 pairs per year. He ventured that Finn Sisu might be the largest rollerski purveyor in the U.S.
“There are so many producers, it’s impossible to be sure” about sales numbers, said Taipale.
While Canniff declined to say say how many pairs of rollerskis Swix had sold in the previous year, he did say that Swenor sales had grown “by 1000 %” since re-introducing the brand. He attributed Swenor’s growth to Swix’s wide dealer base.
Although Fischer would competing in a very small market, like Swix, they may also be able to leverage their existing dealer network for wide distribution.