Newsmakers 2015: Quiksilver Reorganizes

One of the innovators and major companies of the surf business, Quiksilver Inc., wiped out this year.

In September, the Huntington Beach, Calif.–headquartered company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to deal with more than $800 million in debt. As 2016 approaches, many are trying to forecast what the surf company will do next.

When Quiksilver filed for bankruptcy, private-equity firm Oaktree Capital Management threw the surf giant a lifeline. Oaktree provided $175 million in debtor-in-possession financing. (Oaktree paddled to the top of surf news in 2013, when Oaktree came to the rescue of Billabong International Ltd., another dominant surf company. It threw a lifeline to the company and now owns 37.4 percent of Billabong’s stock, along with Centerbridge Partners, another private investment firm.)

There has been talk about whether the surf competitors would merge operations, according to media reports. As Quiksilver cuts staff and stores, analysts and Quiksilver watchers will discuss what it can do next and how it got in its current position.

The big problems started more than a decade ago, when Quiksilver acquired French ski company Rossignol. Originally, the deal was considered a coup because Quiksilver would own properties for surfing as well as skiing. But the winter-sports deal never took off. Quiksilver had to sell the ski brand for $50 million in 2008 after buying it for $325 million in 2005.

During a turbulent two years, Quiksilver has been helmed by three chief executive officers, Bob McKnight, Andy Mooney and Pierre Agnes. Agnes was named as chief executive officer in March.

But the company continues to produce what it is best known for, performance boardshorts, and its core divisions—Quiksilver, Roxy and DC—continue to have a presence in the market and at core board shops. The bankruptcy is not a topic among consumers shopping at ZJ Boarding House, said Todd Roberts, a cofounder of the Santa Monica, Calif.–based core surf shop. “I see a ton of kids wearing Quiksilver wet suits and clothing. I’m not worried about their survival,” he said of the pioneering surf company.