What does the adidas-Five Ten buyout mean for climbers?

Nov 4, 2011
Outside Magazine

When reports surfaced last month that adidas was planning to acquire American climbing and outdoors shoe maker Five Ten, the companies dismissed them as rumor. Yesterday, however, they made it official: the German giant has reached an agreement to buy Five Ten for $25 million in cash.

Five Ten is one of the leading brands in the climbing industry —their Galileo is my go-to all-around shoe—and Thursday's announcement left many climbers wondering whether the corporate takeover would mean a drop in quality for their footwear of choice. Charles Cole, Five Ten's founder and president, says they have nothing to worry about.

"We're not cheapening the brand, it's going to stay a high-end specialty brand," he says. According to Cole, Five Ten will continue to manufacture its rock and approach shoes, like the Guide Tennie, in its U.S. factory in Redlands, California. In an email, adidas spokesperson Katja Schreiber confirmed that it planned to keep the Five Ten brand intact. Cole will remain in charge, but will now report to adidas Outdoor's Senior Vice President Rolf Reinschmidt.

Five Ten will, however, likely cut the number of models of climbing shoes it offers. "[Adidas] didn't think we had enough bike shoes, maybe too many of certain kinds of rock shoes. So we're going to even out the product line," Cole says, though he adds that the company probably would have made similar changes anyway, had the buyout not occurred.

One change climbers can look forward to is increased availability of popular shoes like the Guide Tennie. "When we get in an order of Guide Tennies, they're usually sold out within a week to two weeks," says Nancy Prichard Bouchard, Five Ten's director of communication and sponsorship. She and Cole believe that the buyout will let them increase production and avoid shortages.

Five Ten's athlete team—which includes high-profile pros like Dean Potter, Dave Graham, and Alex Johnson—also stands to benefit from the deal. Besides increasing sponsorship of young climbers through its Core and Brand of the Brave awards, Bouchard says that Five Ten hopes to take advantage of adidas's resources to send its climbers on more trips—including some new ones that bring together athletes from radically different sports.

"There's one that, I don't want to give too many details away, but it involves [skiers and BASE jumpers] JT Holmes and Suz Graham, Dean Potter, and [trials cyclist] Danny MacAskill," Bouchard says. "There'll be nothing like it."

—Adam Roy

Photo: Courtesy of Five Ten/Adidas

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