Year in Review: 2023’s Big Stories
There was no shortage of big stories to hit the action sports world in 2023.
The industry implications of a major deal in Boardriders’ sale to Authentic Brands Group is shaking up retail, talent at companies, and has been described by many as a “changing of the guard.” The impact is no doubt likely to continue to be felt in the coming year.
What follows is a breakdown of 2023’s major stories and themes.
Boardriders Sale to Authentic Brands Official
The deal the industry was waiting for officially closed in September and there couldn’t be more uncertainty about next steps.
As the brands under the Boardriders portfolio move to a licensing model, many anticipate any impacts at retail or elsewhere to not be felt or fully understood until 2024 or later. In the meantime, the more immediate impact has been the employee shuffling as a broad swath of talent has left for other opportunities or were part of several rounds of layoffs at Boardriders most recently in September and October.
These were just some of the year’s biggest headlines in relation to this deal:
- Authentic Brands’ Purchase of Boardriders Officially Closes
- Boardriders Latest People Moves: Hiring Wave at Levy Group
- Boardriders Layoffs Expected to Conclude by End of Month
- Inside the Industry: Talent Shuffle Could Lead to “Renewal and Innovation”
Peruse every Boardriders headline SES covered this year and even further back by visiting the hub here.
And, for the full licensee matrix of the Boardriders portfolio, click here.
Liberated Ends 2023 as One of Industry’s Biggest Players
Liberated Brands walks away from this year as the biggest beneficiary of Boardriders’ sale to Authentic Brands Group, skyrocketing overnight to a major industry figure.
The company snagged a large share of the licensing deals within the Boardriders portfolio that was up for grabs, making it a major distributor and holder of brick-and-mortar and e-commerce for Quiksilver, Billabong, Roxy, RVCA, and several other brands.
Prior to the deals, Liberated’s business consisted of owning Captain Fin and serving as licensee for Volcom and Spyder.
Read more about the deal and Liberated from this year’s headlines here:
- Liberated Brands Confirmed as Licensee for Several Boardriders Brands
- Todd Hymel and Liberated Poised to Become Bigger Players with Boardriders Deal
Vans Turnaround Limps Along
This year was a tough one for Vans.
The company sought to regain ground with consumers, whose footwear tastes have shifted away from the skate brand. While management was upbeat earlier in the year and looked to hit the gas on product innovation and new styles such as the Knu Skool and MTE range, it hasn’t been enough to help the business turn a corner.
Vans ends 2023 on the hunt for a new global brand president, with Kevin Baily stepping away from the position in October. Bailey joined parent VF Corp.’s executive team to focus on leading a companywide turnaround plan called Reinvent to ward off activist investor criticism of the VF business. Vans also ended the year with significant layoffs in its executive ranks, including cutting several leaders with long tenures at the brand.
Read below for some of the major Vans headlines this year:
- VF Corp. Lays Off About 500 Under Reinvent Turnaround Plan
- Vans Gets Back to its Roots in Reinvention
- Vans Revenue Falls 23% on Sluggish Turnaround; VF Announces Cost Cutting Plan
- VF Brands, Including Vans, Can’t Fulfill Orders Because of Cyberattack
On the Rise: Brands Poised to Gain Share
While many headlines in surf and skate this year focused on headwinds, some businesses are getting a chance to prove themselves amid plenty of change.
These brands are nowhere near new to the industry or startups. They’re established businesses that are seeing barriers to entry at retail parting for those who have proven they can deliver on time and offer newness to an always changing consumer base.
SES tracked a number of those fresh faces over the past year, which you can read about here: