Graham Hills, one of the owners of Iron River, which distributes the Pure Fishing brands in South Africa, Africa and the Middle East, is proud of the five awards their brands won at EFTTEX this year. The awards are good signs of what is to come from Pure Fishing, he says. “It is a positive sign of the global changes underway in Pure Fishing.”

At the end of last year, when the American private equity group Sycamore Partners bought Pure Fishing for $1.3-bn from Newell brands, a process was also set in motion that resulted in a change in the South African distribution. “With the changes, the local management team were the ideal choice to represent the brands in the region,” says Hills.

The Newell Rubbermaid Company had bought Pure Fishing and its outdoor brands, operating as Jarden, in 2014. During the  next four years Newell had instituted cost saving measures that stifled brand development. In December they sold the company.

Despite this, Pure Fishing brands had been regular winners at major international fishing trade shows and this year won five of the top awards at EFTTEX, including all three best reel awards and the best new rod on show award (see here).

The new CEO, Harlan Kent, told Angling International magazine that the standalone company will focus on new product development and get back on track with their retail relationships, especially with independents.

 The South African change of ownership has made no major change to their business strategy, says Hills – except that their territory is so much bigger. Pure Fishing, works closely with the new the local team to assist in development of products suited to the market.

He is undaunted that this expansion is taking place in tough market conditions where all sporting and outdoor categories are being challenged. “It helps if you have strong brands as they are trusted by consumers and retailers.”

The name of the new distributorship, Iron River, was chosen after quite a few brainstorming sessions, where various names were considered. “It was eventually decided that Iron River is the most appropriate because it reflects the hard and soft side that personifies the hardware and water of the fishing industry,” explains Hills.