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Quiksilver Stock Closes Under $1

Friday, November 21st, 2008

Overall stock prices were battered again today, and notable action sports heavyweight Quiksilver stock closed at $0.88. What does this mean for one of the oldest and most recognizable brands in the action sports industry???

Moody’s Investors Service lowered the brands ratings on the apparel maker (NYSE: ZQK)., due to weakening liquidity and reliance on short-term debt following the sale of its Rossignol ski equipment business. Last week, Quiksilver finalized the sale of its Rossignol to Chartreuse & Mont Blanc. It had been trying to sell the brand, which had been incurring operating losses, for most of the year. Quiksilver received 30 million euros, or $37.5 million, for the Rossignol deal.

Moody’s said the company has weakened liquidity following the sale, and also received smaller-than-expected leverage from the sale. While the deal was considered a positive since it was losing money, “Quiksilver funded the seasonal build in Rossignol’s inventory through the date of sale, and the net cash sale proceeds (which were reduced in the revised final purchase price) were insufficient to retire the associated working capital debt,” Moody’s said in a statement.

The New York Stock Exchange requires companies to maintain an average closing price over 30 days of at least $1. If a company receives a non-compliance notice from New York Stock Exchange, it has six months to take action before the stock could be suspended from trading or delisted. Nasdaq announced about three weeks ago that it was temporarily suspending its $1 rule for three months because of market turmoil.

Other action sports brands such as Volcom, closing at $7.08, and major industry retail Pac Sun have also felt the beating of the market as their stocks closed down today as well. Pacific Sunwear closed today at $1.18, seemingly following in Quiksilver’s downward path. As the holiday season approaches, the need for big Q4 numbers is immeasurable if we expect to see any future and longevity in the brands there were once the foundation of the action sports industry.

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Plug In and Listen Up – Action Sports Brands Turning Up The Volume in Headphone Sales

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

During these uncertain economic times, everyone is trying to figure out a new avenue to keep their brand hot and alive. As we get closer to the holiday season you can check out all the new and fresh garb that are hitting the store in most magazines that are putting out Holiday 2009 gift guides. Accessories have always been a great go to gift item, and are particularly featured around this time a year, because they are relatively inexpensive and usually pretty universal. One noticeable item that has been up and coming in the action sports community have been headphones. Everyone has an MP3 player or cell phone that cranks out tunes, it’s a win/win market to get into if you want to have your brand exposed in new ways that appeals not just to the core customer, but to anyone as long as it looks cool. This tread isn’t anything new, it has been present and quite establish among urban/hip hop lifestyle brands. The first to really break into the action sports market really did it right. Skull Candy has been able to transcend the clothing brands and has become a commodity that really targets the younger demographic, especially in the action sports community.

They have been able to market themselves within the industry and have not only collaborated with name brands and athletes; they are in major retailers everywhere. The “ear bud” has pretty much become their signature item, even though they were not the first to come out with them. I was on Jack’s Surf Shop’s website and they even have a dedicated section for Skull Candy. CCS even has an exclusive Skull Candy backpack available, a brand totally outside of their core roots. They are not the only brand that has entered into this market with success. Clothing brands like WESC have taken this idea and make it their own. They offer not only a wide selections of styles, but have started styling these items much like they do their clothing line, by mixing patterns, color blocking, and using new and creative art placements that represent their creative vision.

Accessories giant Nixon is on the path to join ranks with the launch of their own headphone line this December. More than just watches and wallets, Nixon will be able to connect with a larger demographic enabling the brands identity exposure to a whole new market.

noxon headphones

With this new trend and the industry trying to branch out into new territory, no doubt we will see other brands follow suit. The question remains, how well will these image-based brands hold up in the sea of heavy weights such as Bose, Sony, and other electronic companies. If the industry continues to show support and stand behind this trend, especially in your local shops and retailers, there may be longevity for the new bread of action sports oriented headphones yet.

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Split Splits

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

split clothingI am pretty positive you’ve all heard of Split clothing. Well, the company is calling it quits within the next 60 days. For the past four or five months, Split was said to have not been profitable and due do the economy and credit market, their future didn’t look so bright.

They had a couple of buyers lined up but no one could seem to get the money or loans needed to keep the company afloat at the moment. I’m thinking maybe someone will jump on in and buy the company last minute when you least expect it. Or perhaps that’s when you most expect it, when the company can be bough for pennies on the dollar.

It takes a lot of time, money, marketing, and tons of other things to get your company name out and be known the way Split did. I’m positive there are some individuals out there that won’t let that go to waste. They also had a DVD due to premier this upcoming Halloween. The production of the DVD must have cost a good amount of cash in itself.

It’s pretty sad to hear a company going under or calling it quits like this. I thought they were pretty rad and I am sure the video was going to be sick! Their skateboard team included Don Ngyuen, Terrell Robinson, Jason Adams, Corey Duffel, Sean Eaton, Sid Melvin, and one of my personal favorites JT Aultz. It’s crazy because I would never have guessed that Split wasn’t doing well in the industry. Their presence has always been so huge and this was the last thing I would ever expect from a company like this. You hear about smaller skateboard companies and core shops calling it quits all the time. But when do you hear a highly established company such as Split hanging the coat up? Almost never.

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CCS SOLD for $102 Million to Foot Locker

Monday, October 6th, 2008

For most of you who grew up skateboarding, the CCS catalog was something that you looked forward to getting in the mail. Even today, in my professional career, I look to it to see what is happening in the market as well, tracking trends and checking out all the fresh garb that is out there. Times they are a changing… CCS parent company, Delia’s, has signed an agreement with Foot Locker for $102 million cash to take over the online and catalog retailer. The acquisition CCS will happen over the next 60 days.

CCS is an online and catalog retailer geared towards teenaged guys that has sold skateboards, footwear, apparel, and accessories for over the past two decades. Chairman and CEO of Foot Locker, Inc. Matthew D. Serra, said, “We believe that expanding our offerings in the skateboard category will allow us to broaden our appeal to the teenaged male, providing an exciting growth opportunity for our Company. The combination of the highly regarded CCS management team and our well-run Footlocker.com/Eastbay operation is expected to provide significant benefits to both businesses.”

Since the company has so much current success, don’t expect to see any changes due to this deal to dramatically affect the appearance of the catalog, as it will retain its branding across all platforms like the CCS website, clothing line and skate team, just to name a few. This new growth may even serve as a new way for the brand to grow and expand, as many other brands have into mainstream culture. I do have to say, it does always get harder for core skateboards to respect such changes when these types of things go down, but that’s the nature of business and if we want to continue to see these types of focused industry retailer survive, change is the only way especially in these hard economic times.

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Grenade To Launch Footwear Line

Monday, October 6th, 2008

I heard a little rumor that Grenade had something new up their sleeves, and according to their website and blog, that something is true. Coming Spring 2009, Grenade plans to launch a footwear line, and to my best guess, will probably kill it. Just looking at sneak peak on the site it looks as though they plan to push the boundaries of fashion as well as the image of their brand.

grenade footwear

In their own words; here is what we can expect to come:

Grenade is proud to present some of the best footwear that you’ll ever fit on your stinking toes; these kicks will cover any hangnail, fungus, or tattoo you’ll ever need to hide from those that care. Just like with any product from Grenade we’ll walk you to the ends of insanity, continents, or just the convenience store down a couple blocks.

grenade shoes

Grenade Footwear was designed to cover our feet when the days grew colder and so we could stop rummaging through the bins at Goodwill for the next good pair to skate. Grenade focused the footwear on the need to thrash on occasion, as well so that Grenade’s got an extra pair to wear skating whenever the need arises. Our biggest pinnacle to cross was the amount of research and time that went into developing a shoe that not only fit well, but at same time, look like it came from the minds of Hitchcock, Genghis Khan, and Sammy Hagar. Get ready to shralp these shoes this Spring 2009, you’ll be seeing them in your local shops and such. Grenade Footwear’s looking great but only better once we’ve got a little blood on them.

Posted in Brands | 1 Comment »

Quiksilver Set to Dump Rossignol

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

Rossignol LogoIn a move that has been forecast by many for quite some time now, Quiksilver is apparently set to finally part ways with Rossignol, the ski company they purchased for $300 million back in March, 2005. The writing has been on the wall with move for a while, never more so than with the removal of former Quiksilver President Bernard Mariette back in February. Mariette was at the forefront of the Rossignol acquisition.

With a binding offer being made by Chartreuse & Mont Blanc, led by Bruno Cercley, former CEO of Rossignol, for a proposed $100 million, Quiksilver is now ready to set itself free from it’s failed venture into the ski industry and get back to focusing on the core brands they have built their empire upon. “This offer is a compelling transaction for Quiksilver and represents the culmination of a thorough sale process. Once completed, we can fully concentrate our efforts on our core apparel and footwear brands Quiksilver, Roxy and DC.”- Robert B. McKnight, Jr (President/CEO) Quiksilver, Inc.

Posted in Brands, Snow | 1 Comment »

Billabong Expanding Rapidly

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

Billabong has been on quite a roll lately. Having already made some incredible pick-ups in the form of Sector 9, Xcel Wetsuits, and it’s latest $100 million acquisition of Da Kine Hawaii, they are now setting themselves up for a move into Russia.

The plan is to set-up shops in Moscow and St Petersburg as well as a wholesale business to replace its existing distributorship. While a country like Russia may not exactly seem like an ideal location for a surf shop, the success of Billabong in Germany and Italy give them quite a bit of optimism for success with this move. Over 40% of sales growth alone was seen in Germany during the 2007-2008 year.

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5 with 5’s: FirstStoke.com

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

First Stoke LogoAs the world of board sports continues to grow like never before, more and more riders everywhere are finding new ways to keep connected with each other as well as with everything that is going on in our board riding communities. The internet is obviously huge in providing so many opportunities for surfers, skaters, snowboarders, skiers, and so many more to immerse ourselves in everything action sports.

I recently had the chance to speak with the founder of a site called FirstStoke.com, Darren Reinke, and threw him a few questions that would help our readers who haven’t heard of First Stoke get a better idea of what they’re all about. Based out of San Diego, Ca. Darren and his partners started First Stoke as a “group of enthusiasts who yearned for an ability to share their experiences, ideas, and passions across a variety of mediums and activities.” They have continued to see strong growth over the past couple of years and are becoming a very fun and useful site for riders everywhere to check out-

5ones: Where did the initial inspiration for First Stoke come from?

First Stoke: Honestly, I was sitting on the beach in the South of Brazil taking in all that Praia Mole has to offer when I came up with the idea. I had been working in the surf industry and therefore had been following what was going on in the world of action sports. The industry had been and continues to grow at a rapid pace, but I felt that in the process the smaller brands, athletes, musicians, photogs, and film makers that have been so vital to the progression of the sports were losing the opportunity to have their voice heard. First Stoke is first and foremost a rider movement that is inclusive to all individuals and groups who embrace the idea of progression and inclusion in the world of board sports. More specifically, FirstStoke.com allows users to connect more deeply with all aspects of the action sports industry including the individuals who are most critical to its growth and survival.

5’s: Give me 5 words that best describe your company and what you are all about?

First Stoke: Progressive…Authentic…Grass Roots…Open Minded…Up and Coming…

5’s: How do newcomers to your site benefit from checking it out for the first time?

First Stoke: First time users can benefit along a number of dimensions; from the pure entertainment value of the pictures and videos to the education provided by the travel and educational content to the ability to connect with sponsors and other riders. Also, we are in the process of enhancing the site and will soon be launching a contest whereby users can win cash and other swag provided by our partners.

5’s: The word ‘core’ seems to be a constant when talking about First Stoke – what is your definition of core?

First Stoke: Core is really just being true to the reason you started surfing, skating, snowboarding, etc…. Yeah, everyone wants to live the dream and get paid to follow their passion. But don’t forget why you got into the sport and lose the love for what you do every day.

5’s: What 1 song would you pick to best suit a First Stoke soundtrack?

First Stoke: Free by Felonious (underground San Francisco live Hip Hop band). The song is all about freedom through expression.

Posted in Brands, Surfing | 2 Comments »

Billabong’s Acquisition of Sector 9

Monday, July 7th, 2008

sector 9Last weeks announcement of Billabong’s acquisition of San Diego based skateboard brand Sector 9 has generated quite the buzz as well as a wide variety of reaction among the boardriding communities. Sector 9 has built itself on the production of incredibly solid, stylish longboards and has in many ways become the face of the longboard explosion in the U.S. “Sector 9’s products, primarily its longboards, really differentiate it from other brands in the boardsports channel and have appeal to surfers, skateboarders and the broader youth market,” said Billabong CEO Derek O’Neill. “The company has not only proved the viability of the longboard segment, it has experienced sustained growth over the past decade and has become synonymous with the California boardsport lifestyle.” Acquiring one of the premier skateboard companies around obviously had left our friends at Billabong very excited and overflowing with optimism. But what does a transaction of this shape and magnitude mean for you and I?

It’s understandable that many who have cut their longboarding teeth on Sector 9 boards will look at this deal with a fair amount of skepticism. The fear that Sector 9 will lose the identity that has made it what it is today and become absorbed into the Billabong brand is a normal one. However if a deal like this was inevitable for Sector 9, I’m not sure there is a better fit than with the Billabong team.

The first positive sign is that Co-founders and owners Steve Lake and Dennis Telfer and co-owner Dave Klimkiewicz are being retained as part of the acquisition in their current roles. The Sector 9 masterminds are highly respected among the industry and are as passionate about their brand as any. Keeping them at the helm will go a long way to keeping the quality and identity if Sector 9 intact. The opportunity to combine their forces with Billabong has them looking forward to a growth in the international markets. “While Sector 9 continues to maintain solid growth in the US, we are most excited at the prospect of combining our brand’s growing international awareness with Billabong’s proven global distribution network,” said Lake.

With this growth will come the need for new designs, shapes, and jut overall inspiration for longboards that have already proven their worth over the last decade. While I understand the hesitancy of the many who have come to know and love Sector 9 to get amped about a deal like this, there is quite a bit to look forward to with the joining of forces of two of the action sports leading brands. Hopefully for Sector 9, the best is yet to come.

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Laird Hamilton Releasing Clothing Line

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

wonderwallHaving been raised in a single parent household by his mother, living-legend Laird Hamilton sought to be part of a clothing line that embodies what he and his lifestyle all about while remaining affordable for all. He has done that with his soon to be launched ‘Wonderwall,’ a surf and skate collection for men that will debut in Spring/Summer 2008.

Hamilton has partnered with a team of designers from Steve & Barry’s, a casual apparel retailer that offers high-quality merchandise at low prices, to put together a line that is representative of the places he spends his time as well as his personal motto – “Every man is equal before the wave.” Every item from the line is set to be priced at $14.98 or less.

“Wonderwall represents everything I’m about – not only what I wear in and out of the water every day, but also those aspects of life that I’m most passionate about. I’m excited to work with Steve & Barry’s to create clothes that look great and are comfortable, but also affordable,” said Hamilton.

As the prices of the majority of surf-clothing continue to skyrocket to levels I never imagined possible, it’s somewhat refreshing to see a line come out that puts an emphasis on being affordable. While Laird is more than likely not setting out to compete with the likes of Quiksilver, Volcom, Billabong, or any of the other big boys in the action sports industry, maybe they can take note of this and work to keep the costs of our favorite brands at reasonable levels.

laird hamiltonwonderwall

Posted in Brands, Surfing | 6 Comments »

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