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European fans of the US-based Jackson Kayaks (JK) have reason to celebrate with the news that their Jackson boats will again be available in Europe.
Timo Lehtonen, from Wildfox Trade in Finland, one of Jackson’s the oldest partner’s in Europe will be spearheading the new initiative. With trade wars, capacity issues due to huge local demands in North America, and additional tariffs on products imported from the United States into Europe has always been challenged with US made boats; this program breathes new life into how European fans of Jackson get their hands on kayaks of all kinds.
Guided by Lehtonen’s experience and clear vision of European requirements, Wildfox secured an agreement with Jackson to manufacture specific kayak models outside of the USA  will allow for an accompanying line of whitewater, fishing and recreational kayaks for Europe excusively.
 “I had many discussions with many potential partners to evaluate options and assess feasibility,” says Lehtonen. “We wanted to ensure the quality you know from Jackson with the price and availability of a boat built for European markets.”  In November 2019, Lehtonen met with Celliers Kruger of South Africa and the program was established. “This was the start of a crazy plan that step-by-step began to make more sense,” he explains.
Kruger, who lives in South Africa, has been in the kayak industry for almost 20 years. He founded Fluid Kayaks, and has been involved in the design and manufacturing over 26 kayak models, mostly whitewater kayaks, over the past 12 years. Three years ago, Kruger launched a small, new kayak company, Vagabond Kayaks with kayak designs that focuses on high-performance recreational paddling as well as a line of whitewater kayaks. Kruger’s experience includes manufacturing as well as the design and development of kayaks, parts, fittings and whitewater outfitting.
This new program will use his new rotomoulding factory, Roto Kayaks, in George, South Africa to begin the new, Europe exclusive, line of Jackson Kayaks.  The factory benefits from a strong local supply chain supported by local businesses, employing 25 locals and will be able to supply both boat and components at a high quality and friendly price. This project will benefit the regional struggle to keep employment numbers in this region of South Africa growing higher.  Logistics, trade agreements and shipping costs between South Africa and Europe make the development and delivery of kayaks for Europe much more streamlined and cost effective.
Jackson Kayaks ‘Edition Europe’ kayaks, manufactured in South Africa and with new components and outfitting, will be available in Europe from September / October 2021.