Christian Dibisch has no problem summing up the last four months of this year. “It is the craziest, busiest time we have ever had,” he says. And the Managing Director of World Fishing Tackle (WFT) isn’t surprised. His was a rare voice of optimism amid the doom and gloom that blanketed the industry back in May.
“We will see a real lift when restrictions are eased,” he predicted in Angling International’s May issue. “I really believe that fishing will explode. People who have not been able to fish will head for the tackle shops in large numbers.” Some of the German company’s current resurgence is down to fishing being exempt from the restrictions that continue to limit other sports and pastimes. But Dibisch’s intuition and judgement was the pivotal factor. While many businesses reduced or stopped the increase of inventory, he and partner Frank Boermann continued to receive deliveries in the belief that fishing would boom before the summer.
“We couldn’t see another scenario. What other activity afforded the same opportunity as fishing? Cycling is the only one I can think of and that too has grown during the pandemic. Fishing requires time – and people unable to go to work or go on holiday had plenty of that. They were also keen to get out rather than sit at home.
“We saw it as a chance we had to take – and we have been justified. Our delivery percentage over the last few months must be among the best in the industry. The improvement in business has been nothing short of an explosion. Before COVID it was hard to see how fishing could be made attractive to more people. But this has given the sport a total lift. Tackle dealers have seen customers they had not seen for ten years.”
Despite the summer coming to an end, Dibisch says there are positive signs that participation will continue to run high. While sales would normally be winding down by now, WFT is still shipping orders for current sales, as well as those for Spring 2021. Retailers are also reporting that bait sales – always a good market indicator – are being maintained into the Autumn. “People who are returning to fishing have found it is more attractive than it was. There is a greater choice of tackle, and products are much better. These are people who may never have thought about fishing again,” he added.
How Pelzer benefits retailers
When elite carp anglers gather to talk about their latest product purchases, then German brand, Pelzer, probably doesn’t get a mention. And that’s good news for the brand’s owner, World Fishing Tackle (WFT). WFT took its first step into the carp market by acquiring Pelzer in 2011 and decided from the outset that the high-end of the sector was not a place it wanted to be.
Instead, it elected to position Pelzer as an affordable, trusted range accessible to the highest proportion of carp anglers. “The mid-range market is occupied by 85% of carp fishermen, so our aim was to meet the needs of these people with products they could rely on,” says Christian Dibisch. “The expectations of elite carp guys are incredibly high and we had to be realistic about competing at that level. A lot of those sales are low margin internet business. Our objective was to provide a respectable margin for traditional retailers.”
Pelzer, founded by carp fishing expert Markus Pelzer, offers a full range of carp tackle from rods and reels to terminal gear, and is particularly strong in bivvies, bedchairs and baits. Entrance height, capacity for two bedchairs and wet space for boots and clothes are the key requirements among bivvy customers, while regular 12 foot, 3lb test rods are in most demand among WFT customers. Line has traditionally been a very strong category for WFT and carp lines are no exception, with mono products making up some 95% of sales and showing an average 10% annual growth. “People trying Pelzer carp tackle for the first time usually stay with the brand,” says Dibisch.
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