Sophie Nicholson: As Global PR and Communications Manager for Scott Sports, can you tell us a bit about your background and what you hope to achieve in the role…
HW: Well, for me it all started with a ski season in Verbier. During that time, I got to know the Faction gang, and I went on to work for them. Over four years I was responsible for their PR and eventually marketing. I joined Scott at their Swiss HQ in 2018, working in marketing across wintersports and outdoor, before taking over as PR and communications lead in autumn 2021. Now I’m responsible for all sports – bike, wintersports and running – and right now the goal is simple: to spread the Scott passion for sports around the world.
SN: Scott’s tagline is ‘No Shortcuts’. Can you explain this in a bit more detail and tell us about the brand’s core values?
HW: ‘No Shortcuts’ means doing things the right way, for the right reasons, whether that’s designing a new bike, or trying to get a PB on your home trail. Since day one, Scott has been committed to making the best sporting products, without compromise. Whether through product development, our world champion athletes, or how our customers get out in the mountains or on the trails, we believe the greatest achievements aren’t accidents – they are hard earned and well deserved.
SN: How would you describe the typical Scott consumer and how does the brand differentiate itself from the competition?
HW: With such a wide range of products, it’s difficult to pinpoint one specific consumer. Rather, our consumers are people who are as passionate about our sports as we are. At Scott, product always comes first: we’re not motivated by the latest fads or trends, but by creating the best products for the sports we love, and that’s appreciated. Our commitment to making great products is just as strong as our consumer’s commitment to performing on trails, road or in the mountains. We say ‘those who own a Scott product usually own more than one’ – and it’s true! Our consumers trust that each product is the most innovative of its category, always with leading technology and design.
SN: Recent years have seen a massive increase in the popularity of e-bikes and as a result, the market has become extremely competitive. How is Scott responding in an increasingly crowded marketplace?
HW: E-bikes are a huge part of our business and it’s growing year on year. There have been big innovations in terms of technology, such as batteries and drive units, as well as frame technologies and design, and we’re proud to be a leader here. In 2022, we launched the Patron, a new e-MTB that was built completely from the ground up. It was a first-of-its-kind for Scott, with integration not yet seen in the industry, and really shows the level of engineering, and especially carbon, expertise we have in-house at Scott. It’s thanks to this expertise that we now have e-bikes for all uses – Tour de France-grade e-Road bikes, e-Enduro machines, fully equipped e-Trekking models, etc. – with even more exciting developments on the horizon.
SN: On the subject of challenging situations – the global supply chain crisis. Tell us a bit more about how this has affected business at Scott and what the brand are doing to minimize disruption going forward…
HW: As seen across the whole industry, there are challenging factors out of our control – be that sourcing raw materials, price increases, localised lockdowns or logistics challenges. We have long-standing, collaborative relationships with our many supply chain partners, which has allowed us to react and adapt as the situation evolves. We are also lucky to have, over the years, built a strong partnership with over 30,000 retailers and it’s this network that is the backbone of our business and ensures we can maintain strong bonds with our consumers for many years to come.
SN: Another major challenge for all of us is the fight against climate change. Tell us about Scott’s approach to sustainability and any future impact-reducing plans…
HW: In 2018, we began an in-house CSR program called ‘Re-source by Scott’. Led by a dedicated CSR team, the program is focused on ensuring our core CSR values – People, Product & Planet – are considered at all levels of the business, be it supply chain, logistics, product development, and beyond. In 2019, we launched our ‘Re-source by Scott’ label, which signifies products adhering to high eco-standards and we are proud to now have Re-Source products available in outerwear, helmets, goggles, shoes and even skis, with many more new developments on the horizon in almost every product group.
SN: You have some pretty exciting talent on your athlete team with the likes of Jéremie Heitz and Jackie Paaso on your ski roster and a host of talented UK runners and bikers including Scotty Laughland, Andy Symonds and Jo Meek. How closely do you work with your athletes when it comes to product development?
HW: We are privileged to work with passionate athletes across all sports, who care about their products and have been part of our team for many years. Next winter, we will launch the Pure collection – a line-up of skis designed almost entirely by Jérémie Heitz – from materials, flex patterns, right down to the topsheet graphics. To be able to combine our athletes’ experience in the field with the in-house engineering expertise is a unique privilege and truly sets Scott products apart. On the bike side, for example, we have worked with SCOTT-SRAM, our MTB racing team for 20 years, and they have been hands on with some of our biggest innovations. In 2021, we launched the new Spark – our flagship XC mountain bike – with new features, including 120mm travel, as requested by Nino Schurter. Needless to say, he went on to win his 9th World Championship title on that exact bike!
SN: While we’re on the subject of outrageous talent – the Kenyan Braveheart Runners Team! Tell us more about how this partnership came about and the plan for the 2022 racing season?
HW: It was serendipitous! Our running team at HQ got to know Alistair, the foundation’s founder, and it was clear that there were a lot of shared values. After many months’ preparation, the foundation was launched and the first athletes selected. With Scott and the Foundation’s support, the athletes have travelled to European races, including the Geneva Marathon and Ultraks in Zermatt. Follow the journey on the Scott Sports YouTube channel with two short film series.
SN: From skis to bikes, running shoes to airbags, Scott has a long-established reputation for innovation and is constantly bringing impressive new performance products to the market. Can you give us any sneaky peeks of what we can expect to see in the future?
HW: This is our most exciting year yet, with big innovations in all sports. From ski helmets to e-bikes, there are some products that set a new bar, not just for Scott but across the industry.