Newton Goes Deeper into Running

NEW YORK — Newton Running is picking up the pace.

Craig Heisner, a former Brooks and New Balance exec who was tapped as president of the firm last month, is looking to increase the company’s presence in the competitive running market.

“We’ve had significant growth year over year,” said Heisner, who initially started out as a consultant with the privately owned company this past fall. “But it’s not a business where you can rest on your laurels because it’s a highly competitive marketplace that’s always evolving.”

Heisner declined to reveal exact sales figures, but he did report that numbers are up double digits over last year.

According to the firm, whose stakeholders include Reebok founder Paul Fireman, Newton Running has grown from a zero percent share in the specialty running store channel in 2009 to a 3 percent share in 2012.

One of Heisner’s first moves as president was to tweak Newton’s product offering.

Known for the proprietary lug outsole technology on its shoes, which range from $155 to $175 at retail, the brand will unveil styles at a $120 price point for fall.

“Having a new price point for us will certainly be a great push,” Heisner said, adding that the more-accessible product is a way of introducing consumers to the brand.

Leveraging the firm’s unique technology position in running is also a goal going forward. “We need greater consistency in how we communicate what our technology does,” Heisner said.

The exec noted the company is upping its investment in digital marketing and its presence at running-related events. With the majority of the brand’s products being sold at independent retail stores, Heisner said grassroots initiatives are key to the marketing strategy.

In January, Newton became the official footwear sponsor of the Ironman Triathlon. As part of the partnership, it will have branding and sales opportunities at Ironman events across the country.

“These touchpoints will give people a chance to touch and feel our product, so we’ll continue to push that,” Heisner said.

Growing distribution with independent retailers is another part of the strategy. Heisner said the company is bolstering its sales team in key markets, such as the Northeast and Pacific Northwest. A new VP of sales, former Columbia Sportswear executive Kirk Nichols, was also hired last December.

City Sports footwear buyer Greg Zuckerman said Newton’s internal growth and revamped offering encouraged the retailer to expand its distribution with the brand. This fall, Newton will be carried at all City Sports doors — more than 20 across the East Coast.

“They’re getting the people in areas that need to be there in order to take Newton to the next level,” Zuckerman said. “They’re beefing up with more people who really understand the industry.”

Zuckerman added that he expects Newton’s lower-price-point product to be the area where the vendor does the most volume next year.

Bryn Mawr Running Co. co-owner Sean Linehan also was bullish about the lower-priced running styles. “We’re excited about it because it’s an entry-level price point,” he said. “We get more pushback from our clients when an item is $175, so it’s good to have more range.”

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