Authentic EVP David Brooks on Plans for Boardriders Brands
There are still many, many moving pieces with the Authentic Brands Group acquisition of Boardriders and its industry-leading brands.
It’s been challenging to get interviews with the new regime because of those moving pieces both domestically and internationally. But David Brooks, the former global general manager of RVCA, is now working at Authentic and is in charge of the former Boardriders brands. We have known Brooks for quite some time, so we asked him to answer a few questions about the go-forward strategy for the brands, including the role of the specialty channel, any mid-tier distribution planned, and how Authentic and the licensees will approach athlete sponsorship
Are some of the new licensees committed to the specialty market? If so, can you give concrete examples?
David Brooks, Authentic EVP for action and outdoor sports, lifestyle: The brands have always been and will always be committed to the core retail market and active participants that shop at these stores.
Authentic and our partners recognize the inherent value of specialty retailers. We are collectively investing in various initiatives, such as digital marketing, original content creation, sponsorship of key athletes, in-store promotions, updated fixture programs, and exclusive product offerings, among others.
In Orange County, California, notable commitments have been made by licensees 05 and Galaxy (Quiksilver), 2253, Levy, and Aldo (ROXY), as well as Liberated Brands (Billabong, RVCA, Honolua).
These licensees have made significant investments in establishing dedicated offices and hiring legacy team members from the brands. With the go-forward teams, we will devote time and effort to the unique needs of our specialty retailers and consumers, which we have done with several Authentic brands, including Volcom and Spyder.
We are hearing Quiksilver will begin selling at Kohl’s. Is that true? And if so, how do retailers know the brand will also still be committed to the specialty market?
David Brooks: As a global branded company, we have learned that consumers determine the brands they want to buy. We in turn ensure that we make those brands available to those people that want to participate in or are interested in our sports.
In simple terms, we want to fish where the fish are swimming. It is our job to curate assortments and ensure that the brands are innovative, trendsetting, and part of the lifestyle that we represent. Where these brands are purchased is something the end consumer will decide.
Authentic’s licensing partner for Quiksilver, O5, is making substantial investments to cater to a diverse market. This includes tailoring product offerings for department stores like Kohl’s and providing exclusive, technical, and performance products for specialty retailers.
O5 is in the process of building out a new Quiksilver showroom and dedicated design hub in Orange County, and onboarding more than 30 experienced staff members from the legacy Boardriders team, including Quiksilver’s co-founder and former CEO Bob McKnight. O5 is also actively involved in athlete sponsorship. Aligning with this approach, all of Authentic’s licensing partners worldwide are channeling significant resources to support their respective local specialty retailers.
Will Authentic and/or the licensees still sponsor athletes? If so, how will that work? Will the teams be as big as before?
David Brooks: Yes, the brands will remain committed to sponsoring athletes, including a right-sized mix of top competitive surfers, such as Ethan Ewing, Griffin Colapinto, Caroline Marks, Seth Moniz, Barron Mamiya, and Bettylou Sakura Johnson.
Additionally, our sponsorships extend to Olympic medal winners and more than 100 other prominent figures, encompassing living legends and world-class content producers across the realms of surf, snow, and skate. No one is more dedicated to supporting these sports than Authentic and its partners.
(Editor’s note: see our recent story about former Roxy surfer Kelia Moniz exiting the brand.)
Some in the industry are bracing for the worst with the move to a licensing model. Are there any examples of how the brands could benefit from these new licensing models?
David Brooks: Authentic is an opportunity builder and our licensees partner with us to invest in brand building, which is the core of our business model. We invest financial resources in brands and breathe new life into them.
The strategy supporting the previous Boardriders portfolio faced various challenges including disruptions in the supply chain caused by COVID, stagnant marketing strategies, and distractions during the sale process.
We are putting our brands in the best position to drive enhanced product innovation, elevated quality, exclusive offerings tailored to key distribution channels, and an increased number of touchpoints.
Can you give us an update on the international territories, specifically Europe, Japan, and Australia/New Zealand?
David Brooks: We’ve recently finalized and announced partnerships in Japan and Taiwan, as well as in the South Pacific covering Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, and Indonesia. These regions will be spearheaded by seasoned industry professionals, Sammy Yoo and Greg Healy, each leading newly established and well-capitalized entities.
We look forward to sharing updates on developments in Western and Eastern Europe, as well as Brazil, in the near future.
What do you say to those who worry that the brands being owned by a major licensing company in New York will lead to the brands losing their authenticity?
David Brooks: Again, we are brand nurturers and brand builders. Authentic provides the financial support, intellectual property, and the guidance necessary to ensure that our partners have the resources to be successful. We also understand that local representation matters, and we partner with regional experts who are leaders in their respective fields.
Through the combination of this joint effort, we are able to lead a community of partnerships that will provide the best products in a timely fashion to the engaged and active community.
Are you concerned at all that competitors are taking advantage of the disruption in the market to take market share from former Boardriders-owned brands?
David Brooks: We are not concerned about competitors; we are confident in the Authentic platform and the loyalty that our brands have built.