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The changes at Billabong and Billabong-owned brands are continuing, with several executives resigning recently, including Billabong Girls VP of Design Mandy Fry and Sector 9 President Steve Lake.
Mandy, one of the best and most respected designers in the girl’s space, is leaving Billabong Girls for Volcom. Billabong Girls has been the industry’s most successful female brand in the past several years, and Mandy has led the design team for years.
Billabong VP of Merchandising and Design Terry Strumpf told me Mandy will be greatly missed.
“I have worked with her for nearly 12 years and I cannot say enough good things,” he said. “It’s been 12 years of fun, happiness and creative genius and we wish her all the best in her new endeavors. I think the world of her.”
Terry said Mandy had a strong team around her, and Senior Designer Allison Roberts would now fill the lead designer role for Billabong Girls.
Sector 9 Founder and President Steve Lake has also resigned, though will remain with the company until the end of June. I reached him via cell phone on his way to surf on the East Cape, and he told me his departure had nothing to do with the turmoil at Billabong.
Instead, his five-year contract was up, and he thought long and hard about all the time he was spending away from his wife and four kids. He decided he wanted to spend more time with them, especially while his kids were still living at home.
He loves Sector 9 and is very confident that his replacement as president, who currently leads international sales and whom he trained for 15 years, is capable of running the company.
“My oldest is 13, and I don’t want to regret not spending more time with the four little creatures that I helped bring into this world,” he said. “That is the God’s honest truth and the root of my decision,” he said. “It has nothing to do with anything else.”
I have also learned that Kim Hall, Element’s VP of Design and Merchandising who has been with the brand for about 10 years, is departing as is Kevin Via, Element’s longtime Sales Manager.
While executives are departing for many reasons, including some personal and some for good opportunities elsewhere, the ongoing turmoil at Billabong, the financial struggles of the company and the protracted sale discussions have caused a lot of uncertainty, anxiety and unhappiness at Billabong and its family of brands, I am told by several people remaining at Billabong.
Currently, Billabong is in talks with parties interested in buying the company, or pieces of it, and its stock has been put on trading hiatus while discussions continue.
The stock price of the company, once considered one of the most successful companies in the industry, last traded at AUD 46 cents per share.
Billabong’s aggressive acquisitions of brands and large retail chains, coupled with the global economic malaise and large debt load, have put it in financial peril.