The Italian running legend bought a legendary Finnish brand – dreamed of a brand called Sisu | Sport

The Italian running legend bought a legendary Finnish brand

Finland’s most legendary sports brand Karhu is one of the main partners of the European Championships in Rome. Behind the brand is an Italian runner well remembered by older Finns.

The Finnish sports equipment company Karhu did a trick in the 1970s that very few Finnish consumer product manufacturers have succeeded in. It became one of the world’s most famous and popular brands in its field. Especially in athletics and skiing, the Finnish manufacturer was an important partner and court procurer of dozens of world stars.

Even Karhu, who originally owned Adidas’ world-famous three-stripe trademark rights, cannot fit into one story, but when Karhu Sporting Goods sold the brand name rights to an American businessman in 2008 Huh of Valkenburg For the Karhu Holding company, the great years were distant history.

– 10 years ago, I was left out of the job as CEO of Asics Italy and I was thinking about what I should start doing. Even though I was an Adidas runner, I have always loved Karhu and its products, an 80-year-old gentleman tells Urheilu in the Karhu race store next to the Olympic stadium in Rome.

Hero of Helsinki 1971

Francesco Ares is a familiar name to grown-up Finnish athletics fans. The Italian won the 1500m gold medal at the 1971 European Championships in Helsinki, where Juha Väätäinen set the golden milestones of Finnish endurance running in the 1970s.

In 2013, Arese presented Valkenburg with an offer for Karhu’s brand rights, and the following year he and the Osaka family companies became a significant majority owner. Arese’s three sons are also involved in the activity.

– Before acquiring Karhu, the father considered establishing a completely new brand, says the participant in the interview To Emanuele Ares.

The name designed by the father for the brand reveals a great love for Finland:

– Its name would have been Sisu. I wasn’t very enthusiastic about it myself, Emanuele Arese laughs.

In Rome, Karhu is one of the main visibility partners and outfitters of the European Championship with a substantial contract.

In their own business, Areset focuses on running and street shoes as well as textiles. The brand’s baseball products are manufactured under license by L-Tec Sports Oy and skis by kiteeläinen, Harry To Kirvesniemi personified as KSF Sport Oy.

Even though Francesco Arese and his sons have gotten sales to grow moderately, there is no going back to the great days, there is a return to profitable business as a niche brand.

In Italy, the products are mainly sold by retailers outside the chains and a brand store in Verona. The brand store can also be found in Helsinki.

Finland, dear country

For Francesco Arese, Finland is a beloved country. No less than three of his ten best 1500m final times were in Finland: two in Helsinki and one in Turku. The best friends of the sports years included the 1972 Olympic champion Pekka A vassal. When Arese turned 80, Vasala returned the spikes that had been “on loan” for almost 50 years.

Arese says that he misses the sense of community from his top sports years.

– After the competitions, we sat together for hours in the evenings. Now athletes come to the games, perform and leave, and there is no longer the same sense of community.