Newsmaker: Boardriders Joins Surf Rivals Quiksilver and Billabong

The surf industry sailed into uncharted waters earlier this year when two of its top brands and historic rivals joined forces.

The Quiksilver brand’s parent company, Boardriders Inc., announced in January that it had acquired Billabong International Limited. Huntington Beach, Calif.–headquartered Boardriders did not disclose how much it paid for its Australian-headquartered rival, but according to Reu­ters the price was $155 million. The deal was finalized in April.

The acquisition followed tough times for both companies. In 2017, private-equity firm Oaktree Capital Management acquired Quiksilver Inc. after it emerged from bankruptcy protection. For Billabong, it was eight years of steep revenue declines. In 2017, it had a net loss of $56.75 million.

The once publicly traded Quiksilver and Billabong were taken private. The new company turned into a tsunami of some of the most popular brands in surf and action sports. Boardriders’ brands Quiksilver, Roxy and DC Shoes were on the same team as the Billabong brands RVCA and Element.

The merger boosted the industry’s morale, said Joel Cooper, a veteran surfwear executive. “There are some good stories to tell rather than who is going bankrupt. This is stabilizing for the industry,” said Cooper, who is the chief executive officer for Lost International, a maker of T-shirts, sweatshirts and board shorts.

Dave Tanner, the chief executive officer of Boardriders, said the two companies would combine operations to cut costs. However, the parent company would preserve the autonomy of the individual brands. In April, Boardriders opened a new concept store in Malibu, Calif., which offers the Quiksilver, Roxy and DC Shoes labels.

In November, Boardriders put its Australian headquarters for Billabong up for sale. The company intends to sell the property and lease the office space back, according to Business News Australia.

Post merger, Billabong chief executive officer Neil Fiske left the company and later joined Gap Inc. in June. He currently serves as president and CEO of the Gap division, the namesake brand for the San Francisco retail giant.

Following the two companies joining forces, a tragedy occurred. Pierre Agnes, the CEO of Quiksilver Inc., disappeared after taking a 36-foot motorboat on a fishing trip off the coast of southwest France.

On Jan. 30, the boat washed ashore without Agnes. Surfers across the world mourned Agnes’s passing with ceremonial paddle-outs in France, Australia and Southern California.