Sports watch maker Suunto unveiled in an article on his site this parent company Amer Sports sells the Suunto brand to Liesheng, another Chinese company that focuses on the wearable electronics segment. The transaction will close in the first half of 2022, and the new owner is expected to keep the management and core operations of Suunto based in Finland.
“For you as a Suunto fan, community member and user, this change is actually not a change at all. The Suunto brand and our digital products and services, watch update frequency, data protection practices, customer support and service, all of this and more continue as normal, ”said Heikki Norta, CEO and president of the Suunto brand.
Suunto – along with Garmin, Coros and Polar – is a major player in the sports watch market, and its history dates back to the 1930s (by comparison, Liesheng has only been around since 2015). Suunto employs more than 300 people worldwide and its products are sold in more than 100 countries.
The adventure brand based in Vantaa, Finland, has been under the Amer Sports umbrella for 22 years. Its flagship line of sports watches is the Series 9, while it has also entered the smartwatch market with its Wear OS Suunto 7 watch. The company has also long been respected for its series diving watches. D and produces a popular chest heart rate monitor.
However, in recent years, as the company has focused on build quality, sleek design, route planning and precision, its devices are known to have fewer features than their competitors.
Suunto users have taken to social media and Suunto discussion boards to speculate on what the changes might mean for the company in the future. Because Liesheng is known to have developed the consumer electronics brand Haylou, which is sold at a low-end price, some feared the new owners would tone down the brand’s premium build and basic GPS competence, while that others felt that this partnership could unlock more resources for the brand to improve.
This is the angle taken by the President of Suunto when he said: “In the long term, the partnership with our new owners will broaden our shoulders in the continuous development of new products adapted to the needs of the outdoor enthusiast.
Liesheng obtained the national certification of high-tech enterprises in China in 2017, and has a large R&D team in which around 60% of its employees work. Liesheng’s annual investment in R&D also far exceeds the industry average.
Further user observations have shown that Amer Sports also owns Salomon and Arc’teryx, and Suunto has often benefited in marketing from its affiliation with these brands and the sponsored athletes they have. It’s true that many Salomon brand ambassadors are also Suunto ambassadors – or at least sport Suunto watches by choice. And they’ve helped support Suunto’s community and culture as an adventure-driven company.
As a global consumer electronics company, Liesheng offers Suunto unique technological advantages in product development, centralized procurement and access to wider international markets, especially in Asia. For Liesheng, Suunto offers access to new markets and product categories, in addition to Suunto’s strong brand heritage, ”said Ma Hao, president of Liesheng.
The closing of the transaction is subject to the authorization and other required approvals and the fulfillment of certain commercial conditions. The parties have agreed not to disclose details of the transaction.