Suunto gets a new Chinese owner
Suunto has announced that it has changed ownership from Amer Sports to Chinese-based Liesheng. The transaction is scheduled to finalise sometime during the first half of 2022. The financial terms of the sale were not disclosed.
Just like Suunto, Amer Sports is a Finish-based company. But in December 2018 Amer Sports announced a €4.6 billion buyout from Chinese-based Anta Sports. Despite the acquisition, Amer Sports has since remained a separate business entity with Anta Sports providing R&D. Wait, it’s about to become even more confusing.
Now we are getting news of another transaction under which the manufacturer of sports watches Suunto will be sold from Amer Sports to Liesheng. Another Chinese company, Liesheng sells its consumer electronics products in over 100 countries. This is particularly impressive considering the company has only been around as a separate entity since 2015. Lieshang also owns the Haylou brand which sells audio devices.
So what does this mean for Suunto smartwatch owners?
Probably not too much. At least, not for now.
Despite the new ownership, the 85-year old Suunto brand continues to live on. The same applies to their “products, digital services, data protection policies, support channels and service”. Liesheng has also stated that every-day operations of Suunto will continue to be run from Vantaa, Finland. Whether this means the customer data is stored on European servers is not clear.
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It is worth a mention that Suunto’s former owner, Amer Sports, includes brands such as Salomon, ENVE, Atomic, Wilson and others. This has certain significance. For example, Salomon sponsored professional athletes use Suunto watches and this was important terms of media and advertisement. With Suunto not being a part of Amer Sports, it is likely this will stop. A fair few Suunto watch owners have probably learned about their product via such channels.
So why the transaction?
Suunto has been struggling in recent years financially and this is most likely the reason for the ownership change. The sports watch space has become increasingly competitive and it is becoming increasingly difficult for Suunto to compete against the likes of Garmin and Polar. In the all-purpose watch space the Finnish brand has even less of a chance of succeeding.
Positive changes should, hopefully, come in the medium to long run. With Liesheng’s resources and knowhow, Suunto says it will “build on their products offering for outdoor enthusiasts”. What exactly this means in terms of actual products remains to be seen.
But there may be other benefits. Liesheng was originally founded by tech-giant Xiaomi and it still maintains a close working relationship. The new ownership means Suunto may be able to significantly widen its distribution channels and broaden its influence in Asia.
For Liesheng the benefit may come from the Suunto name. It is a relatively well known brand in Europe which may help the Chinese company increase its presence on the continent.
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