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Rapala VMC announces ‘large scale’ launch of Okuma in Europe and Russia


Rapala VMC Corporation has this morning announced its pan-European launch of Okuma reels, rods and combos following its acquisition of the brand’s European and Russian trademarks earlier this year. The ‘large scale’ launch will begin on January 1, 2022.

Okuma’s long-term exclusive distribution with Svendsen Sport will terminate on December 31, 2021 with Svendsen’s rights to collect pre-orders ending on September 15, this year.

The agreement covers Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, UK, Ireland, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Russia.  To facilitate a smooth transition, Rapala has agreed to acquire Svendsen’s inventories of Okuma reels, rods, and combos at year-end, when the exclusive distribution agreement will terminate. 

“We have been planning the 2022 Pan-European and Russian Okuma launch for several months,” said Nicolas Warchalowski, President and CEO of Rapala VMC Corporation. “Coming to an agreement concerning the termination of the distribution agreement between Svendsen and Okuma is the last piece of the puzzle. 

“Rapala sales teams will soon be in contact with the customers in Europe that are outside of Svendsen territory, and pre-sales for customers inside Svendsen territory will commence from the second half of September. We are really excited to have all the support from Okuma factories to make this happen. Charles Chang and his team have done an excellent job to build the Okuma brand and product portfolio in Europe and now we will together take it to the next level. 

“Our new product development and innovation centre for rods and reels in Taichung, Taiwan, headed by Enrico Ravenni, has been rapidly preparing together with Charles Chang’s product development team to scale up the Okuma product range in rods and combos. We see significant opportunities for growth in Okuma reels, rods and combos across Europe.” 

Chang, Chairman and founder of Okuma Fishing Tackle, said:  “I am very pleased that we were able to reach an amicable agreement allowing for a 2022 Pan-European launch of the Okuma brand by Rapala. We already see the benefits of the co-operation with Rapala, which is made easier given that the Okuma head office and Rapala main sourcing office are both located conveniently in Taichung.

“Where Okuma excels in new product innovation and manufacturing, Rapala VMC excels in brand building, marketing, operations, and customer service. Being able to join Rapala in Europe and Russia will allow Okuma to concentrate on its core manufacturing and innovation strengths. This pan-European launch of the Okuma brand will increase the awareness and strength of Okuma among consumers worldwide.” 

In today’s statement announcing the launch, Rapala says: “Okuma’s product range is highly suited to European and Russian fishing methods, and Okuma will become the flagship brand in Rapala VMC’s European rod and reel product portfolio. Together with 13 Fishing and other Rapala VMC Group brands, the group’s impressive product portfolio will form a winning platform in the region. 

“Furthermore, Rapala will invest heavily in marketing efforts to support the Okuma brand in its growth journey – Okuma’s customers and consumers will be at centre stage. 

“Through both Okuma’s and Rapala’s strong network of marketers, ambassadors and brand advocates, the joy of fishing with Okuma will be brought to every local market in Europe and Russia. Rapala will implement a renewed and consistent in-store presence at retail outlets that will elevate the modern Okuma brand to the highly respected level that it deserves; and a new digital marketing strategy will remould Okuma’s European social media and website landscape to deliver more value to existing Okuma fans, and to help new anglers develop their fishing skills. 

“Consumers in Europe will see Team Okuma exploding onto the growing online fishing tournament scene, catching big fish and winning trophies with high performance Okuma tackle Okuma will be everywhere.”

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