ASB MAGAZINE: In breaking news this morning, Rip Curl Founders Brian Singer and Doug “Claw” Warbrick have sold their iconic Australian surf brand to Australia and New Zealand based outdoor specialists Kathmandu for NZ$368M ($350M) in a combination of 90% cash and 10% shares that provides a near perfect exit strategy for the pair. The acquisition of Rip Curl by Kathmandu creates a $1 billion dollar Australasian based surfing and outdoor adventure lifestyle company, offering a technical based product mix to their combined customer base across wholesale and direct to consumer retail channels.
“There are strong parallels with both Rip Curl and Kathmandu. Both companies thrive on creating high quality, functional products for outdoor enthusiasts, surfers and beach goers around the world. Both brands are also from the same part of the world – Australia and New Zealand. Bringing them together will build on our respective strengths across product, marketing and distribution channels,” said Rip Curl Group CEO Michael Daly who is excited about the potential in the merger.
“It will be a new world for all of us after 50 years of private ownership, and our entire Crew would like to thank the Rip Curl Founders for everything they have done for surfing over the years,” he continued. “Professionally, my team and I are excited by the opportunities that this will create, and we look forward to joining Kathmandu and retaining our Vision of being regarded as the ultimate surfing company in all that we do.”
It is intended that the brands continue to run independently and look to capitalise on the obvious benefits in the merger; combining expertise to provide great brand and product experiences for customers who share a common love of the outdoor adventure and surfing lifestyle.
Thrilled with the acquisition, Kathmandu’s CEO Xavier Simonet said “Rip Curl transforms Kathmandu into a highly complementary, seasonally balanced, global outdoor and action sports business. The combination will support the acceleration of our brands’ global expansion into new channels and markets. Sharing a focus on quality, innovation and sustainability, Kathmandu and Rip Curl make for a great cultural fit.”
Founded in 1969 and still headquartered in Torquay, Victoria – Rip Curl celebrates its 50th anniversary this year at a time when surfing and the surf market is on the rise again. The Founders are confident Kathmandu is a good home for their much loved brand and Rip Curl crew. There is not much the pair, alongside European Founder Francois Payot, have not achieved on the beaches of the world inspiring world surfing champions like Tom Curren, Damien Hardman, Mick Fanning, Gabriel Medina and Tyler Wright along the way.
The Founders said “After 50 years it’s an emotional event for us. Surfing and the surf industry has been an integral part of our lives for more than 50 years. We realise, Rip Curl, our baby has grown into an adult recognised all over the planet and we are proud that we have created one of the world’s great brands. We are confident the crew at Rip Curl will continue to look after the brand and products into the future. We look forward to supporting the crew on this journey”.
In a letter to suppliers Rip Curl added;
- Rip Curl will maintain its own identity in the new company. There are no plans to merge the Rip Curl brand with the Kathmandu brand. The Rip Curl head office will remain in Torquay, Australia and given Kathmandu has limited operations outside of Australia and New Zealand there are no expected changes to Rip Curl operations internationally.
- This transaction will create a stronger, more dynamic brand management company consisting of the Kathmandu, Rip Curl and Obōz brands. These brands are complementary in that they do not compete with each other and have a natural balance between winter and summer strengths. It will create some interesting collaboration between the three brands.
- Rip Curl are not expecting any major changes to our relationship with our suppliers. Given Rip Curl will maintain its own identity, it is business as usual in our relationship with our key suppliers. We value our supplier relationships and we look forward to continuing to work with you.
More as this story develops…. including the industry reaction, our interview with Rip Curl Executives and conversation with Founders Brian and Claw…
Born from a desire to make outdoor adventure more comfortable and accessible to everyone, the Kathmandu journey originated in New Zealand and the first retail store was opened in Melbourne’s Hardware Lane in 1987. Kathmandu is now a global outdoor apparel and equipment brand with over 160 retail stores in Australasia, four online stores and a wholesale presence in the United Kingdom and the United States of America. In 2018 Kathmandu acquired Obōz, a premium US based outdoor footwear brand.