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Billabong North America President Paul Naude shared his thoughts on a wide variety of subjects Thursday to a sold-out crowd of 180 action sports executives at the Shop-eat-surf Executive Roundtable.
More than 85 companies in the surf, skate, snow, moto, MMA, investment and vendor sectors were represented at this Roundtable.
We’re not going to write an extensive summary here – we’ll leave most of the conversation for those who attended the event at The Shorebreak Hotel in Huntington Beach.
But here are a few highlights of some of the topics Paul and I discussed.
Paul talked about his experience growing up in South Africa and surfing every day with the likes of Shaun Tomson and Michael Tomson and his own career as a professional surfer.
He discussed his extensive background in the garment industry, and the lessons learned during his years at Gotcha that influence his business outlook today.
Paul talked about the challenges and rewards of taking over the Billabong brand in the U.S., what he looks for in acquisitions, how Billabong approaches its retail acquisitions and how the company will manage brand mix at West 49 stores.
He emphatically said that contrary to popular belief he does not pick up the phone and start dictating which brands are carried in stores once the ink is dry on deal papers. He said he lets the retailers run their own business and is focused on their financial performance rather than getting involved in nitty-gritty brand selection issues.
Paul did say there's been three footwear brands that he discouraged stores from carrying because he didn't think one fit with the market, another was overdistributed and the third overlapped with other industry brands.
And he shared his thoughts on what he thinks about big athletic companies moving into the space and the industry’s ability to compete with them.
Paul also said that in all the acquisitions the company has made, it has only approached one of the companies. The others approached Billabong first.
Here are some photos from the morning.