Away expands into outdoor travel

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Dive Brief:

  • Looking for growth outside of its core suitcases, Away on Wednesday introduced F.A.R — For All Routes, a new line of outdoor travel products, according to a company press release
  • The line includes duffle bags, backpacks, tote bags, messenger bags, organizational cubes and pouches. Available in black, navy, green, white and other colors, the products are made of recycled materials, including nylon and polyester. 
  • The line will be available Tuesday online and in Away’s 13 stores in the U.S., the U.K. and Canada. In partnership with tiny cabin provider Getaway, Away is also giving away a free two-night stay at a Getaway Outpost for shoppers who buy a F.A.R product in stores before July 7.

Dive Insight:

With F.A.R, Away said it aims to refresh a “traditionally utilitarian category.” Jen Rubio, CEO and co-founder of Away, said in a statement that the brand is trying to meet evolving consumer tastes.

“During the pandemic, the trend of increasing interest in outdoor travel significantly accelerated,” Rubio said. “That shift, coupled with growing excitement for travel as a whole, has resulted in customer demand reaching new heights. With the insight that over half of travelers expect their post-pandemic trips to be different — including a strong desire to reconnect with nature, adventure, and the outside — we developed F.A.R to enable our customers, both new and existing, to take more types of trips with Away.”

Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Away, much like it has the rest of the travel industry. In April 2020, the company cited the pandemic as the reason why it laid off 10% of its staff and furloughed roughly half of the team. Leading up to the pandemic, the company closed its 10 stores and postponed its Dallas store opening. Meanwhile, with much of travel at a standstill, consumers took to the outdoors in droves, as hiking and other activities emerged as relatively safe ways to spend time.

The past couple of years have also seen a number of shakeups in Away’s executive leadership. After stepping into the interim CEO role in February 2021, Rubio took over on a permanent basis in April that year, transitioning from her previous role as the brand’s president and chief brand officer. At the time, the company also appointed Laura Willensky as its first chief commercial officer, bringing her experience from brands like Talbots, J. Crew and Victoria’s Secret Beauty. In November 2021, the company made more C-Suite hires, including naming Charles Liu its first COO, Melissa Weiss as the brand’s CMO and Luke Chatelain as its first chief digital officer.

For Away, the CEO role has been somewhat of a revolving door. In December 2019, The Verge reported on what employees described as a korey-toxic-work-environment-travel-inclusion”>toxic workplace environment, drawing attention to its previous CEO Steph Korey, who was at the center of much of the piece. In January 2020, Away appointed Stuart Haselden as co-CEO with Korey just a month after Korey said she would step down in light of the news. Korey departed the co-CEO spot later that year, and Haselden left the CEO spot in January 2021, after little more than a year.

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