I stopped by the Quiksilver shareholder meeting yesterday at company headquarters in Huntington Beach, where CEO Bob McKnight and CFO Joe Scirocco discussed fiscal 2008 financial results and plans for 2009.
The two acknowledged during their presentations it was a tough year for the company because of the sale of Rossignol and the low price received for the ski brand, the tightened credit markets and the company's challenges with liquidity and the contracting economy that led to the painful yet necessary restructuring and job cuts.
The sale of Rossignol was "the most financially and emotionally painful event" in Quiksilver history, Bob told shareholders.Tom Holbrook, Darin Bradley, Aaron Pai
But it was also imperative to health of the company and a key accomplishment for the year, given that mergers and acquisitions had virtually ceased in 2008 because of the credit crunch.
Other highlights from the year included a 5 percent increase in company-wide revenues in constant currency despite the economic slowdown, implementing cost savings measures to adapt to slower growth, a stabilizing business in Japan, the launch of Quiksilver Women's and the launch of e-commerce businesses in all regions.
Bob stressed the strength of the company's core brands, Quiksilver, Roxy and DC, and that he is confident Quiksilver can ride out the storm and prosper.
"We are still standing, still fighting" and still energized to take on challenges, he said.
Some product introductions this year include Threadline, a new line of denim for skateboarders; Roxy Athletix, workout clothes for young women 18 to 20 that will be sold in sporting goods stores, gyms, to teams and in other shops this year; and a Roxy partnership with JBL on audio products which will arrive in stores in May. Bob said the Quiksilver brand is also partnering with JBL on products, to be released at a later date.
Also in 2009, Roxy will announce a collaboration with a renowned designer, Bob told shareholders.
Overall, the company's goals for the year are:
Unlike past years, the company is not expecting double-digit growth in 2009 but is committed to improving profitability even without a high growth rate, Joe said.
The Quiksilver story is a recovery story at the moment, Joe said, "It won't be quick and it won't be easy. ... But if we stay focused on the right things, we can do it."