Trends & Features

Running brands are in step together

A perfect fit – that’s how Ronhill and Hilly describe their new relationship with Altra.

The UK company has become the distributor for the US brand that brings proper biomechanical footwear to the running shoe marketplace.

And Ronhill and Hilly’s decades of experience in the running wear sector is the perfect complement to the innovative brand.

Altra has designed running shoes famous for their zero drop technology which offers runners the world’s first fully cushioned, foot-shaped, training shoe without an elevated heel.

This unique platform allows for a more natural foot strike and a more efficient, comfortable ride. Also their distinctive toe box follows the shape of a healthy foot for more comfort, balance and running efficiency.

Oliver Carter, marketing manager for Ronhill and Hilly, said: “It’s a simple premise that the most natural way of running is not to have the heel drop.

“So it’s promoting that zero drop base and also the fact the toe box is made wider so that it allows your toes to spread as you hit the floor and push off.

“Ultimately its promoting a more natural way of running.”

Carter believes that they are in the prime position to help grow Altra’s business with their experience in the running market.

Ronhill was set up in September 1970 by Dr Ron Hill MBE. In the same year he was the first Briton to win the Boston Marathon, in a then world record time of two hours, eight minutes and 29 seconds, and won gold at the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh.

With his love of running and his background as a textile chemist, he was the first to use synthetic fabrics in sportswear and invented a lot of the fabrics that today’s latest products are modern generations of. Ronhill pioneered various products including wrap- over shorts, mesh vests, waterproof running jackets and reflective strips.

He sold out of the company in the early 1990s before setting up Hilly, specialising in technical socks.

Carter said: “It’s a perfect fit. We’re two specialist running brands and we have the opportunity to then take in a shoe brand which was looking to build upon the existing base that the previous distributor had built up in a specialist run market.

“Its going to be working with the right retailers, to get the right product onto the right runners’ feet.

“We work with a lot of the specialist independent running stores in the UK and Ireland and some chains abroad as well.

“Altra specifically we have got the rights to distribute in UK and Ireland. “And Ronhill and Hilly are a UK business which are now taking a real foothold in the export market.

“The fit between all the brands is good.

“From a retailer’s point of view they are working with a company that has been selling specialist run products for best part of 47 years.

“So there is a history there, some great working relationships and I think beside the fact that we make great product we want to be very flexible with retailers which is perhaps something that not every brand can offer.”

Carter is also looking forward to the new year. Hilly will be continuing their upward momentum with a whole new range on offer.

He added: “For Hilly, which has had a great couple of years in terms of revitalising the range, coming in January next year we are launching a brand new range of compression products in to the technical running sock story.

“It’s probably one of the areas which we had, no pun intended, dipped a toe into the water.

“But we’ve now gone back to the drawing board, we have got some really good product and it’s all medical grade compression so its top drawer.”

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