The board of directors of Viking Outdoor Footwear appointed René Høgsted as the company's new chief executive. He is expected to take up his position at the Norwegian company on Jan. 1, 2020. The 46-year-old Danish executive brings a lot of experience in sales, marketing, e-commerce, branding, product and management in big retail and branded goods companies such as Gresvig, Röhnisch and Bik Bok. He takes over from Trond Langeland, who held the post from 2016 to last May, followed by an interim CEO, Marianne Bjarstad.
Høgsted told Shoe Intelligence that he plans to build on Viking's strengths as a pioneering and innovative brand in the areas of waterproof footwear, Gore-Tex and rubber boots. Initially, he will concentrate on strengthening what is already there, moving steadily forward afterwards.
There have been a number of changes recently at Viking, including most recently the departure of the company's head of product development, Alf Morten Bakken, who left to start up a new brand of Gore-Tex shoes, ZeroC (Shoe Intelligence Vol. 21 N° 17+18 of Sept. 14, 2019). Torill Flyen, the product designer, left in May 2018 to start a shoe collection for Kari Traa. In September, Morten Mosland also quit Viking, where he was chief merchandising officer for product, marketing and e-commerce.
Current key employees in the Norwegian company are now: Harald Sjetne, director of operations (sourcing, IT, logistics, administration); Bjørn Christiansen, chief financial officer; Gitte Thune, vice president of sales; and the well-known Pål Hellerud, sales manager for partner markets.
Viking Outdoor Footwear, which was formerly called just Viking Footwear, stopped acting as Pentland Brands' Scandinavian licensee for Kangaroos footwear at the end of 2017. The license was taken over in mid-2018 by Bernd Hummel, the German-based firm that already licenses the brand in many other European countries.
Viking has been part of the Bertel O. Steen Group since 2007, but was founded by Peter Mathias Røwde in 1920 as a rubber factory in Askim, Norway, making it one of Norway's oldest brands. It will celebrating its 100th anniversary next year.
Bertel O. Steen, whose main business is in automobiles, also owns Cherrox, a brand of slush-molded PVC thermo boots, which is now mostly sold at lower prices than before through mass market channels.