Thule Group : outdoor equipment since 1942

In 1942, Thule Group was founded by the Thulin family, when Erik Thulin, a true lover of the outdoors, put the Thule name on a so-called pike fishing trap (a fishing gear) that he designed and began to sell to the fishermen of Scandinavia. It wasn’t long before he added other practical things to his company’s portfolio. Business grew, gaining profitability year after year.

 

By the 1960s, the company started to concentrate its business on car-related products that would make it easier for people to bring different types of gear with them. The first ski rack was introduced in 1962. In the 1970s, new product categories were added with the rise of new sports, such as alpine skiing. In addition, new markets were tapped into all over the world (e.g. USA, Japan).

 

The Thulin family sold the company in 1979 to the stock market listed Eldon Group. However, entrepreneurship and passion remained part of the Thule Group and it has continued to grow organically and through acquisitions ever since.

 

Today, Thule Group is a world leader in products that make it easy for people to bring everything they care about – securely, safely, and in style. Thule Group is a sports- and outdoor company, continuing the tradition by developing smart solutions that are safe and easy to use and that enable active lives.

 

Thus, the product portfolio has diversified immensely over the course of the years, with Thule Group now being the world leader in racks and carriers for transporting bicycles, skis and surfboards, but also offering products such as hiking backpacks, sport strollers, laptop cases and RV solutions. The biggest brand Thule - with its slogan Bring your life - is a lifestyle brand and synonymous with quality products with thoughtful design and is well known all over the world. Many products have received awards for their ease-of-use and good design.

 

Portfolio

The product portfolio is broad and deep and our products are used in a wide variety of contexts with one thing in common: they make it easier for people to live an active life.

 

The biggest Thule product category, Sport&Cargo Carriers is where there is an extremely strong, market-leading position with approximately 50 percent of the global market. Products – bike racks, roof racks and roof boxes, winter and water sport carriers – make it easier for families and enthusiasts to take their sports equipment with them to the ski slope, the beach or the bike trail.

 

The category Bags for Electronic Devices features product lines of trendy high-quality bags, backpacks and sleeves for camera’s, laptops and tablets.

 

 

 

In the Sport&Travel Bags category the company has successfully developed a wide product portfolio with state-of-the-art travel bags, backpacks, technical backpacks and bike bags. The Active with Kids category caters to a growing number of young parents using products that facilitate an active life or sports and outdoor activities together with their kids. The category features premium strollers, bicycle trailers, and child bike seats. The RV Products category is where Thule Group is market leader with bike racks and awnings. It is a product category that is expected to grow by more than 5 percent per year over the next five years.

 

Sustainability

Sustainability is a natural part of Thule Group’s business operations and it goes further than what is required by laws and regulations, for example, when it comes to taking responsibility for impact on the environment and the climate. It also means that it aims to be an active, committed partner in long-term business relationships where we place stringent requirements on ethics and anticorruption, and on good working conditions. Thule Group aims to be part of a sustainable and functioning society. After all, operations are dependent on employees, customers and consumers being able to enjoy an active life in the great outdoors.

 

Thule Test Center™

In October 2015, Thule Group opened its new global Thule Test Center in Hillerstorp, Sweden, now the industry's largest and most advanced testing center. To ensure that the high standards imposed by the Thule Group are met, all products undergo extensive user testing as part of the company's own Thule Test Program™. The experiments include everything from fall, impact, shock and strength tests. Tests even involve simulated extreme environments such as the Australian heat, the Siberian cold and the Arizona sunshine. In September last year the centre was expanded to the double size, 1,200 sqm and became the Global Thule Test Centre.

 

Thule Crew – global team of ambassadors for an active lifestyle outdoors

Many companies partner with top athletes. Let’s face it, who doesn’t want to be associated with world champions and record-breakers? But while the Thule Crew is certainly made up of outstanding performers who have the talent and drive to push themselves to the limit and beyond every day, there’s more to it than that. They champion Mother Nature as much as the human spirit itself. 

 

Not only do Thule Crew members act as brand ambassadors, they also play a key role in the development of products, as they use Thule products daily and often in the most extreme conditions, enabling them to provide valuable feedback on product concepts.

 

 

 

Key figures

Thule Group has approximately 2,200 employees at 8 production facilities and 35 sales offices worldwide. Its products are sold in more than 140 markets and sales in 2016 amounted to SEK 5.6 billion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thule RV (Recreational Vehicle Products)

 

In 2005, Thule Group entered the Recreational Vehicle Product category by acquiring Omnistor, Belgium, Europe's leading manufacturer of awnings and other products for RVs. Thule RV was born.

Omnistor, a family-driven company, was founded in 1977 by Louis Brutsaert. At first, Omnistor imported awnings from the United States. However, not long after Omnistor started producing awnings itself. In the 1980s, the product portfolio was expanded, amongst others with bike racks. The company was then sold to private equity owners in 2001, after which it was acquired by Thule Group in 2005, which rebranded it to Thule RV.

From 2006 onwards, Thule RV has instigated several important renewals in the product range, upscaled re-branding and improved flexibility and reliability in the supply chain through significant investments in state-of-the-art in-line manufacturing.

 

Thule RV manufactures awnings, awning tents, bike racks, entrance steps, and security and storage solutions for recreational vehicles. Thule RV Headquarters and its 21,000m² production facility are located in Menen, Belgium, near the French border. About 200 people are employed at the Thule RV facilities and offices. Today, Thule RV is one of the leading, and most-award winning companies in the motorhomes and caravan market globally.

 

Recent accomplishments

  • Recognized market leader in RV bike racks and awnings
  • Developed strategic partnerships with RV manufacturers as sole category supplier and referenced by many RV manufacturers
  • Strengthened leading position in Germany, the Netherlands, and Nordic markets
  • Moved into a leading position in France, the UK, and Belgium. Tapped into RV markets in Australia and the United States
  • Renewed 85% of the entire product portfolio over the last years
  • Strengthened number one position in awnings through smart and innovative solutions and improved packaging for awnings
  • Won a key position in RV bike racks
  • Developed a successful new range of easy-to-install tents that complement Thule awnings and meet the latest consumer needs
  • Improved flexibility and reliability in supply chain

 

 

Thule RV Products

 

Thule RV manufactures products specifically designed for motorhomes and caravans. Several new product introductions are planned each year, with innovation, design and quality as key words. All new products are developed in-house by our RV research and development team. Needless to say, all new products are tested thoroughly in the Thule Test Center™ in Hillerstorp, Sweden, and at the RV Test Center in Menen, Belgium, before being introduced to the market.

 

In Thule’s test facilities products are subjected to static and crash tests, dynamic tests on a four-dimensional shaking table, cyclic tests, wind tunnel tests, driving tests on a test circuit, heat and climatic tests, and environmental tests. Thanks to these tests, all Thule RV Products adhere to the latest certifications and accreditations and the highest standards in quality, reliability, durability, and safety.

 

The different categories in which Thule RV operates are:

 

Thule Space Solutions

  • Awnings: wall-mounted, roof-mounted, rail-mounted
  • Tents: for long stay and for short stay
  • Smart Panels
  • Awning accessories

 

Thule Storage Solutions

  • Organizers
  • Hanging Systems
  • Boxes

 

Thule Bike Racks

  • For Motorhomes
  • For Caravans
  • For Vans
  • Accessories

 

Thule Comfort & Security Solutions

  • Roof Rack
  • Ladders
  • Steps
  • Ventilation
  • Locks
  • Levelers
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