Skechers has hired a new country manager for France and signed many new distribution contracts in Europe. Gilles Nopres, who worked already for the brand when it was distributed by Groupe Royer in France, is now running Skechers’ French sales subsidiary. He has been working for Kickers lately. Nopres replaces Olivier Motteau who has become general manager of Tommy Hilfiger France.

The company’s sales in France had started to improve under Motteau. Another country where Skechers is doing particularly well on a direct basis is Spain, where the country manager, Javier Guerra, is reportedly pushing the annual volume close to 500,000 pairs, which is much better than originally expected.

Meanwhile, Sports Connection of Denmark has replaced Sportmarket AB of Sweden as the Skechers’ distributor for all the Scandinavian countries. The 11-year-old Danish company, which is setting up a new European Distribution Group for Skechers and other lifestyle-oriented brands that may join its portfolio, is heading for annual sales of 600,000 pairs through its different lines, including the Flexi brand acquired in 2003, the more affordable SMS-UK line and the distribution of Leomil Europe’s products in Scandinavia.

For the Baltic countries, the new distributor of Skechers is FIFAA, a company affiliated with the current distributor of Nike and Converse in the region and with Sportlab, a big chain of sporting goods stores. The new Polish distributor is Poland 1, which also handles the Converse and AND 1 brands.

For its part, Skechers’ Russian distributor for the sporting goods sector, Sportmaster; is launching a Skechers apparel line in the market for Spring/Summer 2006, similarly to Mitsui in Japan. Its Chinese distributor, the XY Group, is launching a line of Skechers handbags under license. Skechers has two distributors in Russia, one for the sporting goods channel and one for the footwear channel. Together they sell about 600,000 pairs a year.