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At the Know?Show in Canada, I ran into Quiksilver’s Tom Holbrook and got a chance to talk to him and Quiksilver Canadian National Sales Manager John Rainnie about the brand in Canada.
Canada is a really important market for Quiksilver according to Holbrook. Because they work mostly with specialty shops, there is a huge core channel, he said.
According to Rainnie, the brand sells the same number of sweaters in Canada as in all of the U.S., even though the U.S. is about ten times as large. He said Canada also makes up about one third of the brand’s overall hoodie sales and that they sell a ton of Quiksilver denim.
“Less then one percent of Canadian people surf, but surf brands are the most demanded products in high schools,” said Rainnie. “Anything that’s heavy and you can wear in our weather does really well.”
Quiksilver began going direct to the Canadian market in 2006. In the past, the brand used a licensee from the 1980s to 1996, then a variety of sales agencies, one of which Rainnie worked for until coming in-house in 2006.
Over a year ago, Holbrook said Quiksilver restructured the Canadian team. They eliminated some jobs from Canada, but brought the logistics functions and sales support back to Huntington Beach.
Now there are ten people in the Huntington Beach office who are one hundred percent dedicated to providing Canada with sales support, logistical help and customer service, he said.
“There was efficiency with this move at a time we were reviewing all our expenses,” said Holbrook. “We, in effect, went back to how we ran Canada prior – with a designated team working out of HB for customer service, AR, and logistics.”
The Quiksilver Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto offices now function as showrooms where the brand does sales and marketing for Canada. They still use three independent/agency showrooms; one for Waterman’s in Quebec, one for Quik Women’s in Vancouver, and one Quik and Roxy agency that takes care of the Maritimes (Halifax based). The brand still uses NRI as a third party warehouse.
In 2008/2009, the brand struggled globally overall, but this past year Canada saw flat numbers and increased margins. Rainnie said overall in Canada, the brand just had less inventory, less closeouts, and improved product.
While the Juniors business is still tough, Rainnie said 2011 is looking great for the brand and that sales are looking bright.