The 2019 Crystal Ball: A Global View

I don’t know about you, but I’m finding it hard to believe that we’ve almost completed another lap of that burning ball of gas in the sky we call the sun. A heck of a lot has happened in that time in the fishing industry: the end (or is it the beginning) of the Pure Fishing saga, the last co-location (for now) of ICAST and fly show IFTD, a host of new brands and products entering the market – it really has been quite the year.

And as we all kick back to enjoy a little festive relaxation, most of the savvy business people among us will be looking ahead to 2019 with hopes, fears and hopefully some hardened plans as well as lessons learned from the previous 12 months. As I was doing my cursory rounds to wish friends and colleagues in the fishing industry the best for Christmas and the New Year, I thought I’d also ask them what they think 2019 has in store. The results may surprise you… 

The American View – Darrin Heim, Co-Owner, American Tackle (USA)

“Last year was awesome – another record-breaking sales year for American Tackle which is ideal since it funds our planned growth in the coming years.

“I am optimistic that 2019 will continue to be great for our industry as business remains strong with a solid foundation of enthusiastic anglers and industry participants. Despite politics or outlook on the economy, people still love to get out on the water.

“Our main target for 2019 is to continue to grow our brand along with our sales and profitability through new product introductions. We will further our expansion into manufacturing along with making preparation for our new headquarters to be built in Oviedo, Florida by 2020.

“We have exciting new products set to launch including new modern versions of our MicroWave Line Control System. Along with expanding our manufacturing, sourcing, and design capabilities so that we are ready when we move into our new facility.”

The Asian View – Martin Bakos, International Sales Manager at DUO (Japan)

“2018 will be remembered at DUO for several things. Spybaiting continued to break new grounds with huge victories at the B.A.S.S. Elite Series St. Lawrence tournament, and FLW`s St. Clair tournament. They helped us to establish a stronger base in the North American market. We have managed to experience positive growth by moving forward with the second stage of our international strategy – developing items for specific areas – via the release of Rough Trail Hydra or the renewal of Tide Minnow Slim series. And most of all, 2018 will be remembered for moving into the new facilities – the largest lure factory in Japan – which shall help us to further enhance our international presence.

“I’m taking a positive outlook on 2019. The bass fishing industry is certainly being rocked by a strong introduction of MLF – the market has been waiting for somebody to ‘rock the boat’ and I’m sure MLF will cause a lot of excitement and stimulation to the market. The industry overall is certainly facing its challenges – the main being the fishing population – but it’s a positive to see that many of the insiders are waking up to this issue and are starting to make moves to shift the industry into the right direction.

“What we hope to attain in 2019 is to be much closer to the individual markets. We have strengthened the team in our international department with the aim of being able to work much closer with our distributors and retailers. We plan to focus much more on the store presence and give our brand the look that our premium products deserve. We do also plan to develop our product line-up and adjust more to the needs of American bass and salt anglers. We have several releases lined up which we believe will make a mark in the market. In the beginning of the year, we will be all about reaching the ‘Apex’ which is the name of the new brand of lures developed by Aaron Martens, arguably one of the top anglers in the history of professional fishing. We will launch the brand with Apex Vibe 100. We will also continue our focus on saltwater with two new Rough Trail releases – Hydra 175 and Malice 150 – and the ‘King of Slim Minnows’ Tide Minnow Slim will come with a new suspending version.”

The European View – Thomas Petersen Eldor, CEO of Westin (Denmark)

“The last year has been a great year for Westin. A big increase in turnover spiced up with our first ICAST award for best new freshwater hardlure, the Freddy the Frog Wakebait, which gave us a lot of reach in the U.S., where we have now setup our own operation to serve the U.S. market better in the future.

“We look forward to 2019 where we expect growth, and we see that the key will be to adapt to new trends very fast and cut down the lead time on the whole process from product idea to delivery. Hopefully, we will see Europe recover after the extreme weather conditions we had in 2018. A bad trend in many parts of the world is the lack of fish. We see that in Europe and many other parts of the world. We see the U.S. as a leading star in protecting and taking extremely good care of their water and fish, recognizing fishing as a sport and not just catch kill and eat.

“Westin has quickly become one of the most recognized, respected and reliable predator brands in Europe and we aim to strengthen that position even more. We are now transmitting that success story over to the U.S. Wherever we go people are raising their eyebrows when seeing and trying our products for the first time. We also see the Westin fans using our products are growing fast around the world and they tend to become very dedicated and committed to the brand. Westin has and will always be a high-end brand where we spend a huge amount testing and perfection our products, the entire development team are all keen anglers. The result is easy to see in the Westin product range where products are not ‘one hit wonders’ but instead well-thought-out and tested products that last and catch big fish year by year.”