There was no sign of the Gold Coast tycoon at the board meeting yesterday where 95 per cent of shareholders, including him, approved the deal to hand over the company he s nurtured for 45 years since Friends say he escaped overseas because he was too devastated to be there. He added: He decided it was better if he wasn t here today, even though he had done everything he could in supporting this transaction. CEO Neil Fiske said the company, which was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in , would be in a far better position to compete globally under the new ownership.
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Billabong s problems are partly a function of the reach of its business. It is being simultaneously hit by a downturn in Europe that shows no sign of relenting; continuing low retail activity in the US, where a promising start to the post-Thanksgiving sales season at the end of November was followed by two fallow weeks, and slow sales in Australia after another cool, damp start to summer. But they shouldn t be the company-killer that the savage two-day market response to Monday s profit downgrade suggests is possible.
There s speculation covenants on debt built up on an expansion path that saw Billabong build a stable of board sport brands and a retailing network here, in the US and in Europe will be tested if trading conditions stay as bad as they are. But even if that occurs, the covenants will surely be renegotiated, and not allowed to ignite a funeral fire. As for what Billabong will do, its decision to state clearly in Monday s profit downgrade announcement that an equity issue is not the preferred option is key.
But despite intense speculation, the group aims to avoid either a discounted pro-rata issue to shareholders or a placement to new cornerstone shareholders. The downgrade nevertheless points to the continuing challenge that retailers face as they attempt to migrate a substantial slice of their custom across to an online platform.
Intense price competition is one of the factors Billabong is citing in its profit downgrade, and to an extent it is manufacturing the price competition itself, as it builds an online presence, and as it responds to weak retail conditions this year by discounting in the run-up to the important Christmas and new year trading period. Billabong moved fairly early and quite effectively to build online sales platforms. It has an online site of its own, and stable members, including Surf Dive n Ski and Von Zipper, also have separate sites.
Here in Australia, it also owns 20 per cent of the online surfing apparel and board gear shop, SurfStitch. It has an option to go to full ownership, but has already integrated SurfStitch to the point where it is the trade executor for any purchase made on its various domestic online platforms. SurfStitch sells all major surf brands, not just Billabong, and an established online surf gear site in the US, Swell. A third site, British-based 2Seasons, is being developed for Europe.
The risk that needs to be managed is that online will be a profit margin mincing machine. It s one that all retailers face as they shift online, but one Billabong must watch particularly carefully, because it is a wholesaler as well a retail store operator. The group has been criticised for building its own retail network, but the alternative was worse. With a retail chain and distribution network, Billabong is less exposed to external retailers who are under pressure - one large US retail chain, Pacific Sunwear, for example, is now in retreat and shutting stores.
Its retail network also offsets the trend for big retail chains to push external brands aside in favour of their own private label lines. The risk though, is that sales previously booked either in Billabong stores or in shops supplied at the wholesale level will migrate to the group s online sites where margins and profits are thinner. One of Billabong s responses has been to set up its online outlets as full-price sites. But online pressure is pushing retail prices down generally, and sites including SurfStitch do run discount promotions.
SurfStitch is, for example, offering discounts of between 25 per cent and 40 per cent on selected Billabong clothing, and independent surf shops report Billabong itself is discounting aggressively. Minutes of the December 6 meeting where the Reserve Bank s board sanctioned a quarter of a percentage point cut in the cash rate to 4. That comment is precisely time-bound because the Reserve thinks the outlook for global growth and rates is now a coin toss: If it does not, as many fear, there will be a severe contraction in the European economy with attendant global repercussions, and more cuts are coming here.
Billabong a victim of its own success. The Sydney Morning Herald. License this article.
Billabong rides a wave down
Starting off as a one-man show with Gordon Merchant sewing boardshorts at his kitchen table over 40 years ago, Billabong has since grown into one of the largest players in boardsports. In the interest of giving back to the surfing community, Billabong focus a lot of their energy on finding young talent and creating some of the best surfing competitions in the world. Their passion and dedication is an inspiration to generation after generation of surfers. Stay up to date and be the first to know about exclusive offers and all the latest Blue Tomato news. Continue shopping Show basket. Be the first to rate this product.
Billabong shops have been bleeding money. Glenn Hunt. That would stun many investors and fans of the famous surf and streetwear brand, which was once one of the most famous and iconic youth brand across the world. Its flagship Americas operation saw revenue slide 5.
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Billabong surf capsule and my surf story Feb 23, Fashion , Life , Style. But this activity opened up a whole new world to me. I discovered a different way of living, more grounded with nature, travel and a healthy and balanced life. Since this world unraveled to me, I changed a lot in my life, quit bad habits and removed toxic people from my life. I fell in love with the surfing world the first time I wen to Bali, back in This trip was a turning point in my life in so many ways. Once back in Morocco, I questioned a lot of things in my life, and I felt a little bit depressed. I was craving more of this carefree bohemian lifestyle. Meanwhile, before figuring out how to do it, I binge watched all the surf and travel movies I could find back then. One of them was Blue Crush! After re-watching the movie, I just went to the beach grabbed a short board!!!! I realised how bad my cardio and physical conditions were, and took matters into hands. Surf brands have the most talented creative directors in my opinion.
Billabong BBG started out as a humble board shorts maker, with founder Gordon Merchant designing and stitching his wares in a Gold Coast kitchen in From those humble beginnings Billabong has grown into a globally recognised surfing brand, involved not only in clothing and apparel but also sponsorship of major board sports events and athletes. However, it has dropped dramatically after a large capital raising in combined with decreasing earnings. The earnings per share graph follows the ROE trend, with big drops from onwards. BBG claim the drop is due to a higher AUD and the costs of purchasing low-margin retail stores as part of the vertical integration strategy, which require inventory to be cleared before their own higher-margin products can roll out. However those high margins mean their prices often sell at a large premium to similar clothing from the likes of Kmart or Big W. Whilst these issues have had an impact, the real underlying problems for BGG are high debt, poor capital management and a poor retail environment. The graph below, showing EPS vs borrowings per share, paints a grim picture. Debt levels have risen whilst earnings have dropped.
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