Rapala VMC strengthens with Okuma Europe deal

Rapala VMC Corporation has agreed a deal to acquire Okuma’s European and Russian trademarks and associated assets for around $8 million USD.

At the same time, the two businesses have reached a supply agreement for Rapala VMC to buy Okuma branded reels and rods from the company.

Rapala will begin selling some Okuma products in selected European countries in 2021 but the large scale European-wide and Russian launch of the Okuma brand will occur in 2022.

An official statement confirmed: “Through a combination of Okuma’s innovation and manufacturing capabilities with Rapala VMC’s strong marketing, customer knowledge and distribution power a solid platform for future growth in Europe and Russia will be created. This combination has no effect on Okuma’s operations or business outside Europe and Russia.”

Okuma, known worldwide for its high-quality rods and reels, is a Taiwan-based company established some 30 years ago by Charles Chang, with manufacturing facilities and R&D centres in both Taiwan and China. It also has fully owned distribution companies in the USA and Japan.

Okuma’s current sales in Europe and Russia through distributors at wholesale value in Europe and Russia exceeds €10 million and its product range is suitable for both European and Russian fishing styles.

Indeed, Okuma will become the flagship brand in Rapala VMC’s current European rod and reel product portfolio.

Together with the 13 Fishing brand and others in Rapala VMC’s portfolio, this is a key strategy for the corporation, which also confirmed plans to make very strong marketing investments to support the Okuma brand in its growth journey.

Charles Chang, chairman and founder of Okuma Fishing Tackle, said: “Rapala VMC is widely regarded as the strongest distribution company in our industry, having the widest and strongest customer base in Europe. Where Okuma excels in new product innovation and manufacturing, Rapala VMC excels in brand building, marketing, operations and customer service.

“I am confident that Rapala VMC will take very good care of Okuma brand and Okuma’s current customers in the in region.

“Being able to join Rapala VMC in Europe and in Russia will allow Okuma to concentrate into its core manufacturing and innovation strengths. This marriage will accelerate the growth of Okuma branded business and it will increase the awareness and strength of Okuma brand among consumers worldwide.

While Rapala VMC’s president and CEO, Nicolas Warchalowski, added: “This is a dream deal for both Okuma and Rapala VMC. Charles Chang and his team have done an excellent job to build the Okuma brand and product portfolio to a highly commercial rod and reel offering being able to fight for market share in the largest rod and reel categories in Europe.

“Our sales teams are getting geared up to present, in 2022, all European fishing tackle shops the impressive Okuma product range, which will allow retailers to earn a solid product margin and for consumers to learn more about the Okuma brand backed up by significantly increased marketing investments.

“Our new PD&I centre for Rods & Reels in Taiwan, Taichung, headed up by Enrico Ravenni, will work closely together with Charles’ PD team to scale up the Okuma product range in rods and combos. We see significant opportunities for growth for Okuma in reels, rods and combos in Europe.”

In addition, Rapala VMC will initiate negotiations with Shimano Europe BV to end the distribution of Shimano-branded products and joint ownership of Rapala VMC distribution companies in Russia, Kazakhstan, Czech, Belarus, Hungary, Romania and Croatia.