Dorel acquired French-owned Ampa in February 2003 and with it came a stable of brands, the most popular and well established of which was Bébé Confort. Since then, Dorel has developed this brand in parallel with Maxi-Cosi, Quinny, and Safety 1st and has launched some of its most successful products under the Bébé Confort name. All that is about to change, as Dorel announces its biggest brand realignment since the launch of the Maxi-Cosi Priori in the UK 11 years ago.
Looking at the influence Dorel now commands in the UK marketplace: an established leader in child car seats, designer of some of the most innovative strollers around, and regularly ranked number one for sales, it's hard to believe the company's meteoric rise over the past decade.
In 1997 Dorel launched the iconic Maxi-Cosi Priori. Winner of a clutch of awards in its first year, including a Mother & Baby Gold, this was a car seat way ahead of its time, and it powered the Maxi-Cosi brand - already established for 13 years in Europe - into the UK market.
It is the strength of Maxi-Cosi that underpins Dorel's decision to focus its resources on this brand rather than Bébé Confort in the UK.
Under this realignment, the most popular Bébé Confort products: the Loola pushchair, Axiss rotating car seat, and Windoo carrycot, will all be branded Maxi-Cosi in the UK from 2009. Dorel will continue to market Quinny in the UK and the Bébé Confort name in Southern Europe where it remains one of its strongest brands.
Andrew Ratcliffe, Managing Director of Dorel (UK) Ltd, says: "The decision to focus on the Maxi-Cosi brand in the UK will have enormous benefits for Dorel and our customers.
"It will enable us to put more marketing resource behind an already strong and established brand, and will remove consumer confusion by showing clearly which products work together."
To assist retailers to communicate the changes and ensure existing stock remains saleable, the brand realignment will have a transition period.
Newly developed adaptors now enable the Maxi-Cosi CabrioFix to fit onto the Loola stroller, giving Loola purchasers the option of CabrioFix or Creatis. To communicate this, the Loola pushchair will become the Maxi-Cosi Loola by Bébé Confort for an interim period.
The move of Loola will be the start of a repositioning to add a ‘mobility' element to Maxi-Cosi which has, until now, been seen as primarily as a car seat brand. This will enable Maxi-Cosi to retain its high-quality status and competitive pricing whilst Quinny increasingly becomes a premium brand.
"We are trying to create clear differentiation between the Maxi-Cosi and Quinny brands to meet different consumer needs," says Andrew Ratcliffe.
Dorel is now the world's largest car seat manufacturer and Maxi-Cosi is on sale in more than 75 countries worldwide. The decision to move some of the best products from Dorel's portfolio into this already powerful brand, backed by Dorel's considerable marketing muscle, establish it as a true superbrand.
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