Impala Roller Skates a Big Hit for Globe International
Globe International has a big hit on its hands with its roller skate brand Impala.
We asked Globe CEO Matt Hill a few questions about the brand and what kind of demand Impala is seeing during the pandemic.
How were Impala skates selling before the pandemic?
Globe CEO Matt Hill: Impala has been going increasingly crazy since 2018. The exponential growth has been amazing and while the pandemic saw awesome further growth, it was really an extension of the trendline we’d been seeing beforehand.
What has the demand been like since the pandemic hit?
Matt Hill: It’s funny because I keep hearing how TikTok and the stay-at-home orders have generated this roller skating boom. I think that really undersells the momentum and culture that underpins what is going on right now. We started seeing this increase in activity back in 2017, and it has built steadily from there. Definitely the pandemic and people’s reliance on social media and activities you can do socially distanced and closer to home have increased the profile of roller skating, but it really just put fuel on an already cranking fire.
Demand has been ever-increasing during both the lockdown periods and subsequently since things have opened up a bit. So the trendline has just kept going from before, during and after the stay-at-home orders.
Are you seeing demand globally, or are there certain regions where it is stronger?
Matt Hill: Globally things are growing fast for sure but the USA and Australia are leading the charge. However, we are also seeing really good business and growing momentum in Europe and Asia.
Is there a certain style or type of skate that is really driving demand or is it universal?
Matt Hill: It’s pretty broad with certain colors and styles being a bit stronger but ultimately all styles are selling really well.
Off the back of the quad skates, we’ve seen real pick up in our retro-styled inline program as well as the skateboards which launched a few months back to an awesome response and sell through.
Has the company been able to keep up with demand? Are new retailers picking up the brand?
Matt Hill: Supply chain has been solid for us, but the ever increasing demand is definitely a good challenge to have. We’ve had some sold out periods but fill in pretty quickly. We’re trying to keep distribution pretty tight so as a general rule are not opening up a ton of new retailers right now.
Why did Globe start Impala in the first place? Did you ever envision this kind of brand adoption happening so quickly?
Matt Hill: We started seeing this really cool resurgence of old school quad roller skates on new participants. Women who were seeking out retro skates to cruise in or finding a pair to get out there for the first time.
It reminded us so much of where the cruiser board/longboard movement started for skateboards, when we started seeing first time or returning skaters getting retro boards to skateboard for fun and to socialize. We’d done well following that movement with Globe skateboards and when we looked to the market to see how that first time, recreational roller skating participant was not being directly addressed, we saw the same opportunity.
We set about building Impala to be an all-inclusive brand for women of all walks of life, without judgement, and a positive brand message to get out and have fun whether you were trying roller skating for the first time, a lifelong skater or someone returning to roller skating after a hiatus.
It was also on our agenda as a company to have more female focused brands in the mix. First, for diversification of the consumer demographic that we sell to which has been majority male.
In addition, Impala creates better opportunities internally to develop female staff and managers on the branded side of the business, an area where we had traditionally been more male skewed – especially when compared to our operational, financial and administrative side of the business where things are more balanced.
While we didn’t create Impala for that specific reason, the brand not only filled a market gap, but also checked a strategic long term box for the company more broadly in terms of staff development.
We definitely thought the opportunity was really broad and had massive potential for Impala, but it has certainly taken off much faster than we thought.
What is also incredible is the super loyal social media following and brand fans Impala has. There is an engagement with the brand audience that is amongst the strongest in our company group of brands which is incredible given how much younger the brand is than many of our others.
It’s a testament to the enthusiasm of the consumer, and the great efforts of our brand team.