The big surf brand wipeout

By Andrew Warren. The “big three” Australian surf brands have found themselves in choppy financial waters.

Billabong, one of Australia’s most iconic surf brands confirmed a $386 million refinancing agreement with US consortium Centerbridge-Oaktree Capital Management acquiring a 40% share, guaranteeing the struggling brand’s short-term future after it posted an $859 million loss last financial year.

Like Billabong, public surf company Quiksilver has reported declining revenues, asset write-downs and growing losses, recently announcing third-quarterly earnings had declined 84%. Privately-owned Rip Curl has also been in profit free-fall. In mid-2012 Rip Curl founders Brian Singer and Doug Warbrick engaged Bank of America Merrill Lynch to help source a prospective buyer for the brand. The planned sale was abandoned in March with a lack of interest at the asking price of $400 million.

The current woes are a long way from the heady days of the 1990s and 2000s, which saw each of the big three surf brands aggressively pursue international expansion and high-profile sports sponsorship deals.

So, why have the Big Three surf brands found themselves struggling? And what is the way to calmer waters?

Andy Davis digs up the underground with Mahala

Andy Davis’s name may forever be associated with the defunct student magazine SL. It really shouldn’t be. The not terribly rebellious and long-dead youth magazine, which he used to edit in the early part of the previous decade, has been properly usurped by the creation of Davis’s own publication – the youth-orientated Mahala magazine and website.

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