THE SNOW+ROCK STORY: BRINGING YOU THE WORLD’S BEST BRANDS SINCE 1982
Snow+Rock was born completely obsessed with every aspect of Skiing and Snowboarding. It has been a passion that has only grown over 34 years as a Snow Sports retailer and is the exact reason it isn’t even a job to track down the best winter clothing and equipment. Winter is everything, so join us on a journey in bringing you the best brands in the industry.
Back to the 80s
The story started with Mike Browne and Sharon Campbell. The pair met while working as Sales Assistants at Alpine Sports on Kensington High Street. Sharon, a charismatic but fiery 18-year-old worked Saturdays before going travelling. It was during this time that Mike set up competition across the road and named the small shop, Snow+Rock.
We spent some time pressing Sharon on how it all started and she took us back in time with how she first became involved in the company.
“I wrote to Mike from Indonesia asking for a job, he told me to come home right away and work for him as a buyer. I had no experience so he also hired a trained buyer, Elizabeth who would coach me over the forthcoming months”.
Where buying begins
ISPO is the world’s largest trade fair for sporting goods and sportswear and to this day, happens every year. Buyers from retailers go there to meet brands and decide what they want to buy for the following year. Essentially, it is a paradise of products and the best place to see new kit in a unique environment. In 1983, Sharon attended her first ISPO with Elizabeth to pick the Winter collection for Snow+Rock.
Sharon skiing in the 80s
“Elizabeth dealt with the numbers but had no eye for ski wear. I knew that I wanted to buy the high end brand Bogner. We managed to snap up tickets to attend their fashion show. It was the biggest and the best show which everyone in the industry wanted to attend. After the show, we made an appointment and expressed our desire to buy the brand. They transferred us to their showroom with the champagne flowing. It was completely crazy!”
With Alpine Sports being directly across the street, many brands refused to sell to Snow+Rock.
“The rep came out with a big order book who offered to show us the range and I saw a Women’s white one-piece suit which retailed for £1,500 (Approximately £4,800 in 2016). Elizabeth told the rep the suit which we wanted to buy and the sizes - one size 10, one size 12 and one size 14. That would be all we could afford. It was so embarrassing because they expected us to be spending a lot of money. Elizabeth calmly explained that we were a new company starting up and that was all the budget would allow but would return the following year to buy more”.
Mike and Sharon at our Chertsey store launch on 21st October 2016
With Sharon having complete confidence in her ability, the following Autumn she sold all three Bogna suits at The Ski Show. Snow+Rock quickly became the ‘go-to’ retailer for many ski enthusiasts who shared Mike, Sharon and the other early partners’ passion for Snow Sports.
As Snow+Rock became more dominant in the industry and Alpine Sports closed down, they moved swiftly in becoming a market leader by introducing new ski brands to the UK. They featured in the first ever Snow+Rock catalogue in 1985.
By 1991, Snow+Rock had 9 stores nationwide and an equipment range so extensive, it had a catalogue to itself. Although equipment technology has developed threefold since the 90s, to this day they follow the same goal. To have Ski and Snowboard equipment suitable for every age and ability.
By 1999, Snow+Rock became one of the first retailers in the UK to launch a website where customers could shop online.
In 2008, several new stores opened including Hemel Snow Centre which housed a brand new Snow+Rock and enabled the company to continue to go from strength to strength.
So who’s taken over from Sharon and is now behind the gear that all ski enthusiasts want to get their hands on?
The Snow+Rock buying team are the best in the business. The instincts which Sharon clearly demonstrated back in 1983 have been channelled down so our buyers still know what jacket a customer will want, over a year before the customer even knows that they will want it.
It was November 2015 when the range that you see appearing in stores and online started to take shape. Prior to that, Snow+Rock buyers researched trends, new names in the industry and snapped up products not yet released.
What makes each of our buyers so unique is that they know Snow+Rock customers inside and out on the mountain so have a strong commitment to delivering the best possible range. Their aim; to give customers no matter where they live, an incredible selection regardless of whether they shop in store or online.
After speaking to suppliers, the team get out on the road to see brands and their revolutionary products as part of building the best possible range from the upcoming season. They travel all over the world but visit many brands within Europe and the UK too.
The team whittle the range down to the absolute best. There are so many brands with incredible stories who develop leading products that the hard part is deciding what not to buy. Extended ranges online too which helps the process, so customers have the best possible choice.
In order to buy an entire collection, the team needs to see all of the brands and go through a review process to ensure that there is a selection of products at different price points then purchase them in the right quantities. Lastly, they decide how many stores they want to put the item into and which products best suit each individual store.
Snow+Rock has grown tremendously since founder Mike Browne set up as a small local outdoor retailer on Kensington High Street. Even being in the 34th winter season, this year is especially exciting. The Snow+Rock 2016 winter range is vibrant with exciting new brands full of technical innovation. Above all, you’re guaranteed to stay stylish in every environment.