SIMA and the BRA hosted a full day Industry Boot Camp yesterday at the Hyatt in Huntington Beach. About 135 people attended the gathering.
Here are some highlights from the day. See our slide show, above, for photos from the event.
Kelly Gibson kicked off the event with his thoughts on the state of the industry and filled the crowd in on Rip Curl today and a bit of his own background.
Kelly, a former pro surfer, came over to Rip Curl five years ago. Prior to Rip Curl, he was President and CEO for O’Neill.
Kelly Gibson of Rip Curl and Sean Smith of SIMA
While there are a lot of brands in the action sports industry trying to touch on multiple disciplines, he said Rip Curl aims to be the ultimate surf company.
Before coming on board, there had been some mismanagement issues and Kelly has been working hard to help the company gain market share in the U.S.
One of the first things he did after rebuilding his own team was create new design hubs. Since trends in Australia (where Rip Curl is based) move much faster than in the U.S., there are now three separate design hubs for the brand: one in Australia, one in Europe, and one in the U.S.
He’s also been focusing on product innovations, especially wetsuits and boardshorts.
As for the state of the industry, he thinks it has never been better.
“People may laugh, but I think we are the strongest we have ever been. The true surf enthusiasts --- there has never been more people in the water,” he said.
“What we lost … maybe some revenues have gone, but I think we were getting phony sales from that secondary customer buying surf and skate that are now buying MMA brands. For the customer to move that fast, it means they were never ours to begin with anyway.”
He also said that performance in actual surfing has increased faster than ever before, forcing brands to innovate.
As for Rip Curl expanding their own retail footprint, Kelly said they are lucky in that the company is still privately owned and that means they don’t always have to think about next quarter, but rather focus on what’s best for the brand now.
Retail-wise, they are continuing to focus on their core partners.
See Page 2 for a summary of the State of the Industry panel with Michael Tomson