With a history of 60 years as a business, 70 years of lure making experience and close to 300 world-record catches, Rapala and its products are clearly crafted from experience. With its track record and current unique distribution network, manufacturing platform and brand portfolio, the Group is well positioned for growth.
Crafted From Experience – Positioned For Further Growth
With a history of 60 years as a business, more than 70 years of lure making experience and more than 880 world-record catches, Rapala and its products are clearly crafted from experience. With its track record and current unique distribution network, manufacturing platform and brand portfolio as well as solid financial basis, the Group is well positioned for further growth.
Necessity – The Mother of Invention (1936–1945)
Lauri Rapala, the founder of the Rapala business, was born into poverty in Finland in 1905. To make a better living, Lauri started to develop a lure that would increase the productivity of his fishing. In 1936, he finally managed to carve a rough-looking lure that produced an off-centre and enticing wobbling action – the one that is still the basis for many Rapala lures. The story of Rapala lures had begun.
The Business Is Born (1945–1955)
After World War II, Lauri revived his small lure making business that had blossomed just before the war. Lauri first made all the lures himself but was soon joined by his family. Despite the increased production volumes, Lauri insisted on testing every single lure to make sure that the action was correct. Even today, all Rapala-branded lures are manually tested before packing.
The American Dream (1955–1965)
Foreign visitors to the Helsinki Olympic Games of 1952 were amongst the first to take Rapala lures outside Finland. In 1955, the first export sales started to Sweden and Norway and later to the USA. In 1957, the business was formalized and the Rapala-Uistin (Lauri Rapala and Sons) company was established. In 1959, Ron Weber and Ray Ostrom started to distribute Rapala lures in the USA, a business later to become Normark Corporation. In 1962 a long article of Rapala happened to be published in the Life magazine’s circulation record breaking memorial edition on Marilyn Monroe. This exploded the demand of Rapala lures in the US.
International Co-operation (1965–1975)
After export sales were expanded in the early 60’s from the US to Canada, Rapala strengthened the distribution in Sweden in the mid 60’s and made the first contacts with the French companies Ragot and VMC. Many new lure models were introduced in 60’s and the first Rapala fillet knives were launched in 1967 – the start of the co-operation with Marttiini. By the mid-1970’s, Normark, then still separate from Rapala, had established distribution companies in Canada, the UK and Sweden. At the same time, Rapala signed distribution agreements to Denmark and France. The new factory at Vääksy was opened in 1973.
Family Business to Next Generation (1975–1989)
After Lauri Rapala died in 1974, the company name was changed to Rapala Oy and the son Ensio was appointed as President of Rapala while his brothers Esko and Risto had their own responsibilities. Production methods and technology were further developed and the capacity increased markedly: while a total of 25 million lures were produced during 1936-1975, the total number of manufactured lures reached 100 million in 1988. The range of lures was further widened, the Blue Fox spinner brand was introduced and a manufacturing unit was established in Ireland. During this time, the Group acquired a boat company and a caravan business.
Time of Change (1989–1998)
In 1989, Esko’s son Jarmo Rapala was appointed as President of Rapala and Jorma Kasslin as Deputy President. Consequently, a major restructuring followed: in a few years Rapala sold both the boat and caravan business and acquired the Normark distribution companies in the USA, Canada, the UK, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Holland and Finland as well as the French company Ragot. In 1993, Rapala started a distribution alliance with Shimano. These changes were followed by a management buy-out, where the management together with some private equity investors bought the company from the family and listed Rapala Normark Oy on the Helsinki Stock Exchange in 1998. Jorma Kasslin was appointed as the President of the Group.
Expansion and Diversification (1998–2005)
Following the stock exchange listing Rapala’s expansion continued strongly. In late 1990’s and early 2000 Rapala bought Storm lures, French VMC hook business, Chinese Willtech lure manufacturing unit and Williamsson big game fishing business. Rapala lure manufacturing expanded in Estonia and Group’s own distribution company network expanded in Japan, East Europe, Switzerland and Brazil. Simultaneously, the product range was widened to include a variety of fishing accessories such as rods, reels and fishing lines.
Profitable Growth Continues (2005-today)
A new phase in implementation of the profitable growth strategy started in 2005. In less than a year, the Group acquired or established distribution companies in South Africa, Australia, Malaysia, China, Thailand and Switzerland and bought lure manufacturer Luhr Jensen in the USA, knife manufacturer Marttiini in Finland, fishing line supplier Tortue in France and cross-country ski manufacturer Peltonen in Finland. Thereafter, Rapala has established a lure factory and several distribution centers in Russia, a distribution companies in South Korea, Romania, Iceland, Slovak and Belarus, acquired the Terminator spinner bait business and widened the distribution alliance with Shimano to several new countries. Group has also successfully entered into the fishing line business by acquiring the Sufix brand and just concluded a deal on Dynamite Baits to seriously enter into the carp fishing business and UK distribution. Simultaneously, the Group has developed a large variety of new products and product categories including clothing, sunglasses, pheromone attractants and many new lure families as well as expanded its gift business. The Group has also improved its profitability and strengthened its balance sheet by e.g. changing the operational business model in China, restructuring the lure manufacturing in Europe and developing its supply chain and working capital management.
With this product assortment, distribution network, manufacturing platform, brand portfolio and solid financial basis, the Group is well positioned to continue its profitable growth.
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