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Iconic Aarn Packs finds a new Kiwi home

Martin Walker from Christchurch retailer Further Faster is the new owner of Aarn Packs.

Kiwi brand Aarn Packs, known for its distinctive balance bags, has been sold to a Christchurch-based outdoor retailer.

The usual story goes something like this: a homegrown brand becomes a huge success and is sold to the highest bidder, usually an overseas-based entity.

But the recent sale of Aarn Packs has a different narrative. The iconic Kiwi brand which makes distinctive ‘balance packs’ has recently been acquired by independent outdoor retailer Further Faster in Christchurch. 

Further Faster acquired the distribution rights to Aarn in 2015 and owner Martin Walker said the outright purchase of the brand is a natural progression. 

“I’ve been working with that brand now for six years,” he said. “It’s a good brand, we know it works and we’re all behind it in the shop.

“We wanted to continue Aarn’s good work. The fact he’s been developing this brand for the past 25 years and he was wanting to retire and the natural process was for us to take it on.”

“If we hadn’t done anything it might have disappeared, or maybe gone offshore.”

Walker plans to further develop the brand, but his first order of business will be to ensure he can get packs into retail at a time when supply chains around the world have been disrupted by Covid-19. 

The Aarn pack brand is known for its distinctive front balance pockets.

“In the next 12 to 18 months we want to build u\p the stock base here in New Zealand to make sure we’re fully stocked. We’ll be looking at bringing on some other retailers in areas of the country where it’s not available at the moment. We’ll be doing a slight rebranding of the international website and we’ll be looking to grow into areas internationally where we don’t already have distributors.”

But with Aarn’s founder Aarn Tate staying on in an advisory role, Walker says he’s also keen to further develop the brand.

“The main range will stay exactly as it is but we’re always looking to improve and there could be a few bits and pieces that come through, though that’s commercially sensitive.”

However, when asked if he would be further developing the Aarn range of tents he was less cautious with his comments. 

“We’re a pack brand. Aarn is a pack brand and we’re going to focus all our energy on packs.”

Further Faster is also the New Zealand distributor for the Montane and Sierra Designs brands. 

Read a full interview with Aarn Tate, the founder and designer of Aarn Packs, in the upcoming June 2021 issue.