Vibram took over the distribution of its soles in the U.S. last Jan. 1 from its long-standing licensee for that market, Quabaug. As the biggest rubber producer in the country, that company will continue to manufacture soles for Vibram, and it will continue to be involved in R&D, but Vibram USA will handle sales and other operations.
Quabaug has been manufacturing and selling several millions of pairs of Vibram soles every year for use by big U.S. manufacturers such as Danner, LaCrosse, Red Wing Shoes and Wolverine, especially for military applications.
Some sales executives have already left Quabaug to join the staff of Vibram USA, which has been successfully concentrating until now on the sale of FiveFingers shoes. Sales of these very special shoes rose last year by more than 400 percent to about $50 million, mostly in the U.S., and this helped Vibram to record a double-digit increase in its overall sales to around €140 million. The takeover of the license in the U.S. could add some €30 million to the top line this year.
Meanwhile, Vibram continues to accumulate awards. It recently received at New York's Museum of Modern Arts the “Brand of the Year” award put out by the Footwear News magazine, in recognition of outstanding consumer acknowledgement and product differentiation of Vibram's FiveFingers.