On the step-in front, licensing is going to be critical for companies to expand their business and help solidify their market position. Arcane, although a sleeper in the current step-in lineup, recently announced a deal with Elan to license the proprietary technology of the Arcane step-in system for a multi-year period. Elan will offer Elan-branded Arcane-compatible boots and bindings, distributing them through its worldwide distribution network. Arcane snowboard boots and bindings are owned and distributed by Mt. Waimea, Inc., a division of Quiksilver, Inc.

“Quiksilver has intentionally moved slowly and selectively in approaching potential licensees, waiting until the product design was established in the market,” says John Vance, Quiksilver WinterSports vice president of sales and marketing. “With deliveries this season on target, we felt the time was right to expand our reach and bring in a strong partner.”

According to Patrick Crotty, Elan Snowboard’s international product manager: “We’re looking forward to a mutually beneficial long-term partnership. We tested and evaluated all the systems on the market and found Arcane to offer the best on-hill performance of any system-along with the greatest flexibility for Elan’s future designs.”

Brian Brand, Elan Snowboards North American product manager., says the company is excited to work with Quiksilver. “The Arcane system is a strong one, a proven performer,” he says. “Looking forward, there’s no question that a strong step-in system will become an increasingly crucial element to a company’s success in the U.S. marketplace. We feel that this partnership positions us very well.”

According to Brand, the two companies have been working on the deal for the better part of a year. For Elan, the managers felt it would add to their offerings.

“Coming out of SIA, it was clear that the battleground is not shrinking in the step-in arena,” said Brand. “We decided to actively search for a partner right after the show.”

Brand added that the managers at Elan felt the Arcane system was the most reliable out there and they were impressed with the performance features.

“There’s only one moving part in the whole system,” he said. “The guys at Quiksilver are sharp. They’ve got a lot of ideas about where the interface could go.”

The Arcane system was first introduced last season and distributed in the U.S., Japan, and Europe. Elan will give retailers an alternative supplier for Arcane products and hopefully will enhance the brand’s visibility in the market.

“We’re excited to have Elan as a partner,” says Roger Neiley, Arcane’s designer and director of research and development. “While the Elan and Arcane 1999 boots are different in performance, they’re all interchangeable. Both brands are on track for a timely 1999 introduction and testing by dealers worldwide. We think buyers will be pleasantly surprised with the breadth of the offerings, and the brand’s overall strength in the market.”

Brand says this is the first licensing deal for Elan with either snowboards or skis.

-John Stouffer