Arena gears up its American business by re-establishing its own US-based business unit

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In a signal of its growing commitment to the American watersports market, Arena, one of the world’s leading swimwear brands, has announced its fully-fledged re-entry into the USA through the establishment of a wholly-owned business unit, Arena North America LLC. The announcement follows a year of extremely positive results after the brand’s US re-launch in December 2009 through business partner Arena Swim USA.

Operating under the umbrella of Gathering Storm holding company, Arena Swim USA has held the exclusive distribution, sales, marketing and merchandising rights for Arena products since its entry into the US market some 16 months ago. Such has been the success of the campaign to grow Arena’s presence in the world’s largest swimming market under the leadership of Tim McCool, that the Group’s CEO Cristiano Portas decided to accelerate the process by re-establishing the business unit, with McCool at the reins as Vice President. The commercial and sales teams that participated in the re-launch campaign, along with the entire sales force of Arena Swim USA, have already been transferred to the new business unit.

While the new Arena business unit signals its direct re-entry into the American market in a formal way, the company already has strong existing ties to swimming in the US through its sponsorship agreements with numerous world-ranked swimmers, universities, and coaching associations. Today these include world champions and record holders Rebecca Soni, Eric Shanteau and Aaron Peirsol (recently retired), the recently-crowned NCAA Men’s swimming champions University of California Berkeley, the men’s and women’s teams of Auburn University and SwimAmerica Program run through the American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA).

These ties go back almost four decades, when Arena was founded by Horst Dassler in 1973. He started the beginnings of the Arena Elite team, in which the world’s top swimmers collaborated with the Arena Research and Development team to create the world’s most technologically advanced swimsuits of the time. And it was a fruitful relationship – at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, members of the Arena Elite Team won 44 medals, and over 50% of the men’s finals contestants wore Arena suits in their events.

Subsequent members of the Arena Elite Team included numerous American world record holders, world champions, and Olympians. In addition, Arena was the official technical sponsor to the American national swimming team in 1977, and the official sponsor to the Canadian national swimming team at the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

“We are very excited to re-establish a fully-fledged, direct presence in the United States,” said Arena CEO, Cristiano Portas. “Our success with Arena Swim USA has encouraged us to accelerate the process of growing the Arena brand further in the USA as the 2012 London Olympics draws nearer. This is a natural move for Arena since our American ‘roots’ in fact date back to the company’s founding in 1973, and we have been consistently been involved in American swimming through champions such as Matt Biondi and NCAA titleholders University of California Berkeley.

“It is therefore fitting that we acknowledge the debt we owe American swimming by empowering Arena North America to be even more effective and efficient in running our US business. We look forward to a future of promise in the world’s largest swimming market, with a firm belief that all those involved in swimming at all levels in the USA will be able to benefit from our long-standing focus on quality, technological superiority, and commitment to continuous improvement and innovation.”

Since 1973, Arena has created and marketed waterwear products for competitive swimmers and swimming fans worldwide, and is universally recognized as one of the premium brands of high quality swimwear and equipment. Over the last 37 years, the
Company has developed strong expertise in developing best in class products with particular focus on the Pool segment, while also gradually expanding into leisure and beach wear.

Arena has commercial subsidiaries in Italy, France and Germany, and also operates through a global network of distributors and licensees. The Arena brand is present in 80 countries worldwide, of which 70 are directly managed by the Arena Group (6 through commercial subsidiaries and 64 through distributors and licensees), while in the Far East (10 countries) the brand is owned and managed by the Descente Group.

The Company’s ties to the world of sport and swimming in particular are reinforced through sponsoring activities at different levels, including governing bodies, national federations, athletes and clubs.

The Arena Elite Team of international swimming stars currently holds 20 individual world records between them in the long and short course formats of the sport. Among the illustrious Team members are Brazilian champion Cesar Cielo (22), gold medalist in 50m and 100m freestyle at the World Championships in Rome, and gold medalist in the 50m freestyle in Beijing; Frenchman Alain Bernard (26), world silver in Rome and Olympic gold in Beijing in the 100m freestyle; German Paul Biedermann (23), world champion in the 200 and 400m freestyle, setting two new world records in the process; multiple Olympic champion Aaron Peirsol (USA 26), gold medalist in 200m backstroke and the 4x100m medley relay at the World Championships in Rome, and gold medalist in the 100m backstroke and 4x100m medley relay at the Beijing Olympic Games; Kirsty Coventry (Zimbabwe, 27), gold medalist in the 200m backstroke in Rome (setting a new world record in the process) and silver medalist in the 400m individual medley, and a gold and three silvers at the Beijing Olympics (200m backstroke, 400m individual medley, 100m backstroke, 200m individual medley); Rebecca Soni (USA, 21), Olympic champion in 200m breaststroke and world champion and record holder in the 100m breaststroke; Hannah Miley (UK, 21), European champion in 400m IM (LC) and European record holder in the 400m IM (SC); Eric Shanteau (USA, 26), gold medalist in the 4x100 medley relay and silver medalist in the 100m breaststroke in Rome; Thomas Lurz (Germany, 29), gold medalist in the 5km for three successive world championships, including Rome where he also won the 10km; Tunisian Oussama Mellouli (26), world and Olympic 1500m freestyle champion; Serb Milorad Cavic (25), gold medalist in the 50m butterfly and silver medalist in the 100m butterfly in Rome, and Olympic runner-up in 100m butterfly; Hungarian Laszlo Cseh (24), silver medalist in the 200m medley and bronze in the 400m medley in Rome, and three-time silver medalist in Beijing (200m, 400m medley and 200m butterfly); Norwegian Alexander Dale Oen (23), silver medalist in Beijing, European record holder in the 100m breaststroke, and silver in the 100m breaststroke; Swede Sara Sjöström , gold medalist in the 100m butterfly at the World Championships in Rome; South Africans Cameron van der Burgh (21), gold medalist and world record holder in the 50m breaststroke, and silver in the 100m breaststroke at the World Championships in Rome, Roland Schoeman (30), Olympic champion at Athens in the 4x100m relay (2004), and twice world champion in the 50m butterfly in Montreal (2005) and Melbourne (2007), Chad Le Clos (18), gold medalist and record holder in both the 200m butterfly and 400m IM at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, and Suzaan Van Biljon (21), winner of the gold medal in 200m breaststroke at the World Short Course Championships in Manchester; Dane Lotte Friis (21), world champion in the 800m freestyle and silver medalist in 1500m freestyle; and Polish champions Pavel Korzeniowski (24), silver medalist in 200m butterfly at the World Championships in Rome, and Mateusz Sawrymowicz (22), gold medalist in 1500m freestyle at the World Championships in Melbourne (2007).

Arena is also title sponsor of the FINA - ARENA Swimming World Cup, historic partner of the LEN (Ligue Europeenne de Natation), and technical sponsor and official supplier to many swimming Federations including Russia, Hungary, Poland, Sweden, Croatia, Norway, South Africa, New Zealand, Ukraine, Romania, Czech Republic and Estonia.

For more information:
Laura Kunoth
Arena USA
Carlsbad, CA 92010
Tel: 858.603.8100
Email: lkunoth(at)arenausa(dot)com

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Laura Kunoth
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888-902-7362
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