Authentic Brands Group acquires Boardriders
Another step forward for the world's leading surf brand group. Five years after Oaktree Capital brought together the two leading surf brands Quiksilver and Billabong under the Boardriders umbrella, the structure has been acquired by the New York-based Authentic Brands Group, according to a press release published on March 31. The amount of the transaction was not disclosed, but it is expected to be finalised in the autumn, after the competition authorities and employee representative bodies give their approval.
Even if the influence of board sports brands in the fashion world has declined since the glory days of the 1990s and 2000s, Boardriders, with its portfolio of Quiksilver, Billabong, Rvca, Element, DC Shoes and Von Zipper, is still a major player in the sector and claims a turnover of 2.9 billion dollars (2.67 billion euros) via a global multi-channel distribution network consisting of more than 500 stores, 7,000 retailers and e-commerce sites in 35 countries. The ABG press release states that the agreement also includes the acquisition of the Surf Dive'nSki network, a specialist board sports retailer in Australia with 80 outlets and an online platform.
Boardriders now has offices in the United States and Australia, as well as in Europe, in Saint-Jean de Luz in the southwest of France. In 2018, Oaktree Capital Management, which has owned Boardriders since 2016, bought Billabong and Rvca, which were in financial difficulty, for around $250 million. Since then, the group's management and the brands have been working on integrating the labels, with, for example, Billabong's teams leaving the historic headquarters in Hossegor in the Landes region to join Boardriders' buildings in Saint-Jean de Luz in the Atlantic Pyrenees. Over the last few seasons, the group has made progress in harmonising processes and ensuring the consistency of collections.
"We are proud of our deep connection to the global board sports community, but also to have industry leading brands and world class teams," said Arne Arens, CEO of Boardriders. "Under Authentic's umbrella, Boardriders will be ideally positioned to increase the reach of our iconic brands to millions of consumers, capture market share in our key categories and develop untouched areas, including the premium athleisure, training and lifestyle proposition."
For ABG, this acquisition will enable it to integrate new international brands into its already extensive catalogue of labels. In the world of sports and boardsports, the American group already relies on Volcom, Airwalk, Vision Streetwear, but also Spyder, Above the Rim and Prince. Its was the group's acquisition of Reebok in 2021, for 2.1 billion euros from Adidas that signalled its global ambitions... as did the purchase a few weeks ago of the British brand Ted Baker for 211 million pounds (240 million euros). Boardriders has probably been acquired for a similar price to these two brands.
"As an early believer in the global and commercial reach of action sports, this acquisition takes me back to where I started my career," said Jamie Salter, founder, chairman and CEO of Authentic. "In addition to the great brands and impressive global reach that will come from this acquisition, we see the potential for Boardriders to be a successful online marketplace under Authentic's leadership. With Boardriders' retail experience, we also see tremendous opportunities to accelerate the expansion of its shop-in-shops, branded shops, wholesale and e-commerce businesses around the world."
The New York-based giant is a brand management specialist that supports the marketing development of its labels and finds partners in various markets to implement its strategy.
"Authentic is committed to transforming brands through powerful storytelling, compelling content, innovative business models and immersive experiences," the company details in its presentation. "Authentic creates and activates unique marketing strategies to ensure the success of its brands across all consumer touchpoints, platforms and emerging media.
Previously perceived as a player interested in celebrity brands (Muhammad Ali, Elvis Presley, Shaquille O'Neal, Marilyn Monroe,...) with a few American ready-to-wear brands in its portfolio, ABG has become a leading player very active in the field of acquisitions and has gradually built a group with names such as Nautica, Barneys New York, Volcom, Forever 21 and Izod. While the group had given up last year on its intentions to go public on the New York Stock Exchange, its acquisitions have made it a key player in the ready-to-wear sector, which today claims a turnover of 22.7 billion euros with its more than 40 brands via more than 10,000 direct sales outlets and some 380,000 retailers throughout the world.
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