The Beaumanoir Group’s plan to put Boardriders back on top in Europe

The Beaumanoir Group’s plan to put Boardriders back on top in Europe

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Jun 5, 2024

Beaumanoir is getting into sport. Last February, the Breton group, owner of Cache Cache, Bonobo, La Halle, Morgan and more, announced its intention to acquire the European activities of the Boardriders group, which manages the Quiksilver, Billabong, Roxy, DC Shoes, Element, RVCA and VonZipper brands. Now that the French Competition Authority has given the go-ahead, the deal with American owner Authentic Brands Group (ABG) has been finalised. It is now up to Beaumanoir to get back on track with the development of strong assets in the boardsports sector, a roadmap outlined for by Jérôme Drianno, the Breton group’s managing director.

Boardriders – DR

This is a new field of activity for a family-run company that has been rooted in the classic ready-to-wear sector since the 1980s. “Within the group, we were thinking about the next move, how we should evolve after the acquisitions of La Halle, Caroll and Sarenza. Lifestyle and sport have become very dynamic. A trend that is flooding the streets. And just as we were taking an interest in this, the Boardriders opportunity arose. Discussions got under way, and I think our solidity played a part in ABG’s decision, in the face of the competition,” explains Jérôme Drianno, who works for a group that claims annual sales of 2.3 billion euros – a slight increase compared to 2022 – with 2,000 points of sale.

“We want to continue to build on Boardriders’ major strengths, which are its iconic surf and snow brands and products. We’re aiming for strong growth for the group by expanding the retail network, strengthening wholesale partnerships and the web,” he says.

Urbanising the collections

The Beaumanoir Group intends to preserve all the labels, and bring them to life in a different way: “It’s a well-balanced portfolio, with assets of varying size and maturity. So there are two essential leading brands, Quiksilver and Roxy, which we’re going to continue to push through fairly wide distribution, and then Billabong, which is more of a niche brand dedicated to surfers. It needs to maintain its specialist positioning by concentrating on coastal areas. DC Shoes needs to return to the forefront and two small brands that are very well known in their field, Element and RVCA, have great potential,” he explains.

What’s more, the aim is also to “urbanise the collections to reach remote coastal and mountain areas, so that we can expand the network. By way of example, The North Face and Carhartt have managed to get their products out on the streets, while remaining very attractive to sportsmen and women.”

Jérôme Drianno – DR

The Beaumanoir group is going to have to get used to a sales method it knows very little about: wholesale. Sales of products to multi-brand players account for 60% of the Boardriders Group’s business, via thousands of accounts across the continent. These are relationships that the CEO wants to “continue to nurture, drawing on the skills of our in-house teams to manage this portfolio, which includes Intersport, Decathlon, JD and Amazon,” he says. “We will bring to the structure our approach to sourcing, omnichannel subjects and data, as well as our logistical power.”

Developing the multi-brand “Boardriders” format

Jérôme Drianno plans to push retail, a channel that accounts for 20% of Boardriders’ sales, with 200 addresses (branded shops and corners). “We want to reopen our own stores. Some of our brands have disappeared from the landscape.” To strengthen this retail presence, he emphasises the potential of the multi-brand “Boardriders” concept, which has only nine outlets in Europe.

“It’s an extremely interesting format because the Group’s brands complement each other. Above all, we believe in these larger shops, which offer a real customer experience, rather than renting very small, very expensive shops,” he adds. A format that inevitably echoes “Vib’s”, Beaumanoir’s multi-brand shop, with more than 230 units on the outskirts of France.

Department stores also represent “an opportunity for development,” as in the El Corte Inglés network in Spain, where Boardriders brands have a strong presence, “which is much less the case in France,” for example.

Billabong – DR

In Western Europe, France is the leading market for the group’s seven brands, ahead of Spain/Portugal, then Switzerland/Austria/Germany and finally the UK. The web (where Boardriders generates 20% of its business) is another area of expansion that Beaumanoir can exploit. “On our Sarenza portal, for example, which generates 70% of its sales in the lifestyle and sports segment, the Boardriders group’s products are likely to be strongly reinforced. We sell what the market wants, and in this case we can see that the sportswear trend is strong and lasting.” However, at this stage, there is no question of distributing Quiksilver or Roxy products in the Beaumanoir group’s shops, according to the managing director.

A redundancy plan has already been launched

This takeover comes at a stressful time for the employees of Boardriders, which has its European headquarters in Saint-Jean-de-Luz in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques region. Having undergone a number of restructurings in recent years, a job protection plan (PSE) was announced to the teams last March, involving the net loss of 120 jobs at a site employing more than 500 people, according to local media outlet Sud Ouest. “We are neutral with regard to this situation because it is a reorganisation decided by the owner ABG (which bought Boardriders at the end of 2023, editor’s note),” he assures us. “We’re going to take this matter in hand, and our challenge is to restore momentum by removing the uncertainties through a long-term development perspective.”

After the boom years of the 1990s and 2000s, these boardsports brands have seen a slow decline and restructuring. In 2018, the resounding takeover of Billabong, then in difficulty, by its rival Quiksilver, which had also hit rock bottom. In 2023, the American fund Oaktree Capital sold the group, which had a turnover of $2.9 billion (€2.67 billion), to the New York-based Authentic Brands Group, which owns Reebok, Volcom and Ted Baker. Authentic Brands Group has decided to delegate the management of Boardriders to different regions of the world.

Element – DR

The Saint-Jean-de-Luz headquarters will be a third office for Beaumanoir, which already has two centres in Saint-Malo and Paris. Jérôme Drianno will oversee this new activity, while Nicolas Foulet retains his role as head of Boardriders Europe.

The Beaumanoir Group is focusing on getting to grips with this new asset and is therefore taking a break from its external growth ambitions. Except for retail opportunities, where the company says it is “listening to the market for partial takeovers of shop networks.” Jérôme Drianno believes that 2024 “looks pretty good,” despite the “ups and downs of the market,” with diversification being one of the responses to the uncertainties hanging over the fashion consumer sector.

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