In a deal involving two of the biggest brands in the surf and action sports culture, Boardriders Inc., the company behind Quiksilver, Roxy and DC Shoes has acquired its struggling Australian rival Billabong, owner of its namesake brand along with other lifestyle brands such as Element and VonZipper. Both companies have recently struggled to stay afloat after the wave that had carried them to success in the late 90s and early 2000s had come crashing down on them.
“Life is better in boardshorts” one of Billabong’s slogans says and in the early 2000s urban dwellers from New York City to London seemed to agree. In these golden years of the surf industry, young people hitting the streets in sandals, shorts and tank tops weren’t a rare sight even in cities far from the ocean or anything resembling a beach. Brands such as Quiksilver and Billabong had suddenly turned into multi-billion dollar businesses that competed with industry heavyweights such as Nike.
In recent years however, it seems as if life in boardshorts isn’t as sweet as it used to be. Starting around 2010, Quiksilver and Billabong suddenly saw their sales decline and both companies started losing a lot of money. Quiksilver even had to file for bankruptcy in 2015, only to be bailed out by Oaktree Capital Management, an investment firm that specializes in turning struggling companies around. In a deal reportedly worth around $300m, Oaktree is now adding Billabong’s line-up of brands to the Boardriders portfolio, effectively creating the world’s largest action sports company with more than 630 retail stores in 28 countries.
According to the official announcement of the deal, “Boardriders has dramatically improved its operational and financial performance since its turnaround began in February, 2016”. Even though no public figures are available to prove that claim, the company will now be hoping to turn tide for Billabong as well.
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