Arena, the popular swimwear brand established in 1973 and owned by Swiss fund Capvis Equity Partners, is celebrating its 50th anniversary by setting some strategic goals. 

While aiming to become a B Corp and Benefit company by 2024, the brand wants to lower its impact on the environment, offer a wider range of responsible products, and grow into new segments, while introducing a special 50th Anniversary collection for s/s 2023 and grow further globally.

Peter Graschi, CEO, Arena, explained The SPIN OFF how the company aims to achieve its future goals.

Peter Graschi
Photo: Arena
Peter Graschi
Arena wants to become B-Corp. What path will it follow to pursue this aim?
We started the evaluation to become B-Corp in 2022. We made the evaluation together with Nativa Lab, a specialised Italian company, supporting us in this roadmap. Together we drew a roadmap aiming to reach 80 goals by this year and then start the application for the B-Corp certification.

In order to become a B-Corp we will focus on re-defining many of our company’s activities, for instance, in terms of packaging, on the use of recycled yarns and collaborations with institutions, among others.

We also want to proceed according to a more holistic view of the company about, for instance, how we develop ourselves, how we create our sustainability roadmap, and becoming B-Corp is very useful and very much aligned with our values. 

By when do you want to reach this target?
By this year, we want to achieve the 80 required goals and obtain the certification by 2024. After reaching the status of B-Corp, we will follow another roadmap that will make us gain a total of 100 points by 2025.

How exactly do you want to achieve these goals? It's not quite easy for a bathing suit company reaching such goals while keeping faith to essential qualities like, for instance, stretchability, durability and color stability.
This is exactly one of the specific challenges for Arena. Especially in the performance and in the racing, we want to show that it is possible to be performant and sustainable.

For instance, we launched our first race suit Powerskin ST Next, a next-generation competitive swimsuit that is the first-ever World Aquatics-approved racing suit that is made from 68% recycled yarns coming from pre-and-post consumer waste, which would have otherwise been destined for landfills.

Are you planning any projects focused on circularity?
For products like, for example, wetsuits, we are studying what we can do with the used ones, and we are asking ourselves what we can do with them. For instance, we could put them back, we could recycle them and make new products out of the old wetsuits. These are certain areas where we are working on.

We are also committed to offer products made with recycled raw materials like recycled PET bottles, nylon, silicone and polycarbonate.

Starting from s/s 2024, 100% of Arena swimwear and beachwear will be entirely made with recycled materials and our sportswear offer is made with 73% recycled materials, even if already our s/s 2023 swimwear collection is already entirely made with recyclable fabrics.

Arena's brand campaign Planet Water featuring David Popovici
Photo: Arena
Arena's brand campaign Planet Water featuring David Popovici
What about sustainable packaging?Packaging is key for us. Goggles are a very important family of products for us. If you go to department stores, you will see that goggles are always wrapped in big plastic packaging. For s/s 2023, we changed that and released our goggle's packaging made from FSC-cardboard. In addition, most of the paper used in our packaging is FSC-certified.

Are there any other important changes?
We have also completely changed our management’s targets. Now every management, at every level, also has always a sustainability goal to reach among its targets.

What about retail? Will you introduce any specific changes in that too?
Along with wholesale distribution, we also operate around 20 stores which measure about 140 sq. meters each. Through our direct stores, in the future we would like to introduce a process through which customers can bring back their old products.

Are you also considering to use alternative materials for POS material like, for instance, recycled plastic hangers or other alternative materials for store decors?
It’s something we are considering. Retail is a small part in our journey. We are very much focused on our wholesale and e-commerce, which are bigger channels, as from our origins.

What about transportation, delivery of the goods and manufacturing of the products? How will you handle all this?
We have to differentiate. Everything that is racewear, the top products of our offer, is produced in Europe, mostly in our factories, which are based in Italy and Slovakia.

China is also an important country for our supply, and we are working to nearshore more productive steps. We started from goggles, an important family of products whose manufacturing requires a high automation level.

Googles are among the products we are evaluating to move their manufacturing from China to Italy.

What eventual other investments are you planning to become a B-Corp?
We are investing in green electricity from renewable sources and natural gas. Since 2021, here in Tolentino, where our head offices are based, we switched to renewable energy and are now investing in solar panels. After doing that in our headquarters, we have started doing it in all of our other subsidiaries.

In 2022, we have also started a partnership with the company ZeroCO2 for a reforestation project to plant 2,778 mangrove trees in Guatemala. 

In 2019, at Arena, we began measuring the carbon footprint of our annual global sales meeting, which brings together more than 300 people in one place. This now allows us to set goals for reducing the social and environmental impact year-on-year, and introduce strategies to achieve these targets.

The planting of those mangrove trees is projected to absorb an estimated 350,000 kilos of CO2, enough to offset the emissions generated by the international sales meeting we organised in 2022.

What other eventual innovation or segment does Arena want to focus on in the future?
We are delivering now our relaunched beachwear collection. We are investing in it for 2024 right now. It will be based on new fabrics, new collaborations, and it will be released this May.

By now, the beachwear and lifestyle part counts for 12%. In a short term, we aim to make to grow to count for 24%.

Arena headquarters, Tolentino, Italy
Photo: Arena
Arena headquarters, Tolentino, Italy
What is Arena’s turnover?
In 2022, we reached €140 million sales, 45% more than in 2021 when we registered €97 million revenues. By the end of this year, we aim to reach more than €160 million sales, registering an over 15% increase.

How important is e-commerce?
We have our own e-commerce, but also operate through pure e-tailers. These two channels together are more than 20%, of whose our own e-commerce only counts for more than 10%. 

How much could e-commerce grow further?
We expect it reaches 40% by end 2023.

What are the main markets where you register better results?
We sell to 128 countries worldwide. Our strongest markets are The US, Italy, France and Germany.

Among our future targets, we want to further grow in The US considering the high potential due to this market’s size, and also want to approach two new strategic countries–Australia and The UK.


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