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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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