Stab Magazine | Nike Is Reportedly Selling Hurley (A Brief History Of The Relationship)

Nike Is Reportedly Selling Hurley (A Brief History Of The Relationship)


news // Jul 26, 2019
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

As initially reported by Reuters, since confirmed by Shop Eat Surf, footwear titan Nike is looking to unload the surf brand, Hurley.

Technically founded in 1979, but rising to prominence during the tail end of the 20th century, Bob Hurley’s eponymous brand sprung from a decision to forego renewal of the Billabong USA license in 1998. The new(ish) brand quickly grabbed substantial market share due, in no small part, to Hurley’s access to former Billabong staff and team riders.

Hurley was acquired by Nike in 2002 for an undisclosed amount, during a decade during which the Oregon-based shoe manufacturer began dabbling in the surf market. Nike took over sponsorship of the US Open in 2009, the same year it began adding surfers to its roster of athletes. World Tour competitors Kolohe Andino, Michel Bourez, and Carissa Moore signed on the dotted line with extreme-sport campaign, Nike 6.0, in 2009. Julian Wilson was picked up in 2011.

As the surf industry, and profit margins, shrank Nike began offloading financial obligations. The brand, and its subsidiaries Hurley and Converse, ended their relationship with the US Open in 2012. That same year saw existing surfer contracts transferred over to Hurley. Hurley world go on to snag then-World Tour sophomore John John Florence in 2013 for a five year contract, which was renewed three years later for an eight year span.

But the ensuing years have not been kind to surfwear powerhouses. Land-locked dweebs no longer cherish the surf look as much as they did following the turn of the century.

Nike has not disclosed Hurley’s revenue since 2012, at which time it was reported to be $260 million. It seems safe to speculate that, because Nike has not reported income since, and because it is currently looking to offload the brand, that number has failed to grow, if not shrunk.

Billabong, Hurley’s former employer, along with competitor Quiksilver, were snatched up by distressed investor, Oaktree Capital, in 2017, before being merged into Boardriders Inc. A majority share in Oaktree has since been acquired by Brookfield Asset Management, creating one of the world’s largest alternative money managers.

There has been no indication the financial powerhouse plans to go for the trifecta and attempt to add Hurley to its stable.

What this means for the surf industry’s future is unclear. As with any corporate transition, current management and creative teams would do well to update their resumes. Team riders may want to consider looking for other options, just in case the new owners feel like it’s time to renegotiate existing contracts. Perhaps especially if they’re currently recovering from their first severe injury.

Normal, run of the mill, surfers don’t have anything to worry about. It’s a clothing company.

Whether it lives or dies won’t affect your daily existence in the slightest.


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