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Reef: Platform in place, growth ahead

By Tiffany Montgomery
February 14, 2008 7:03 AM

I headed down to Carlsbad yesterday to catch up with Reef President John Wilson and his team.

Reef is coming off an intense 12 months when the company tackled several major projects, including:

Reef HQMoved into a new headquarters, pictured at right, close to the beach in Carlsbad.

Sponsored and managed its first major surf contest.


Switched to a new computer system used by parent company VF Corp.

Launched girls sportswear, girls shoes and girls swimwear.

The girls lines are in stores now for spring. At right, a Reef dress.

reef.girls.dressesSeveral retailers have told me they are impressed with Reef's dress offerings.


Released its first movie, "Reef Mixed Tape: Bobby

Volume 1."

Opened a New York showroom.

Added an office for the Australia/Asian region.

After finishing all those projects, the company is now concentrating on execution, John said.

"We are super focused right now to get after the apparel opportunity we see and to build a leadership position in apparel and to continue our leadership position in footwear," he said.

VF Corp. executives have said they are "encouraged" by Reef's growth potential and that the brand continues to resonate with core consumers. Since VF acquired Reef in 2005, Reef has recorded a 24 percent revenue growth rate, according to VF's public statements.

In 10 years, John believes Reef's apparel business will be bigger than its footwear business.

In general, the goal is to build Reef's product offering and get it on par with its level of brand awareness. John says despite all the changes Reef has experienced during the past six years - being a family run business, then owned by outside investors, now owned by VF Corp. - the Reef brand has remained strong throughout.

Vice President of Global Marketing Kevin Flanagan told me he and John, as the new generation of Reef leadership, feel responsible for protecting the Reef brand that was created by founders Fernando and Santiago Aguerre.

"We love the brand and feel a lot of responsibility to maintain and protect it," Kevin said.

I also talked to John and Kevin about the economy, a hot topic these days.

"Yeah, the market is tough," John said. "We are optimistic about the market in the long term. Between now and when it comes back we've got to focus on what we can control. We need to be aware of what is happening but not get in a death spiral (mentality)."

In the meantime, the team is working hard but also enjoying the lifestyle that they love. John and Kevin on the spur of the moment Monday morning went surfing at a secret spot accessible only by boat after rearranging a few meetings.

Here are some of the Reef teams I met Wednesday.

Reef marketing teamThe marketing group, pictured at left.

That's Vice President of Global Marketing Kevin Flanagan  standing up in back.


reef sales team








Here's the sales team, pictured at left.

Tandi South, girls national sales manager in white and blue in front, is just back from maternity leave.


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