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Tiffany Montgomery
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Toby Bost: There’s opportunity in downturn

By Tiffany Montgomery
January 27, 2008 6:26 AM

I talked to Toby Bost, the CEO of La Jolla Group and O'Neill Clothing quite a bit at the show, and he likes his company's position as the economy softens.


He said he has made strong hires over the last 15 months since he became CEO and now has a team of 14 executives of similar age focused on taking the company to the next level.


"We are an unstoppable group at the point," he said.


La Jolla Group's largest brand, O'Neill Clothing, is "on fire" right now, Toby said.


He thinks there will be consolidation of smaller companies both on the brand and retail side during any downturn.


He thinks La Jolla has an advantage because the company is private and doesn't have a lot of debt.


"And we're still small enough to turn the boat when we need to," he said. "That's a key advantage."


Toby said La Jolla logged double digit growth this year which was a "huge win," especially since it was a challenging year relearning how to do business with PacSun, the company's biggest account. PacSun changed the way it ordered goods from brands this year, among other initiatives.


Signing surfing phenom Jordy Smith was also a coup, Toby said.


In 2008, La Jolla will be looking for more deals, he said. "Not flat out" acquiring someone, but creating strategic partnerships. "We're looking to snuggle up with key business partners," he said.


"We're very focused on the advantages in a downturn," Toby said. "The deals get sweeter and sweeter."


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