Stab Magazine | Rip Curl Just Sold For $350 Million To New Zealand Based Outdoor Retailer

Rip Curl Just Sold For $350 Million To New Zealand Based Outdoor Retailer

After 50 years of private ownership, one of the last remaining independent big named surf co has a pay day. 

Words by stab

When it comes to the big, foundational surf brands, Rip Curl’s been the last hold out in the corporatization of industry. But announced today, the Torquay-based wetsuit manufacturer has been purchased by outdoor retailer Kathmandu in a $350-million deal.

Billabong, Hurley, Quiksilver, Volcom and Vans went this way years ago as the brands either went public or were acquired by larger conglomerate companies. Now, after 50 years of private ownership, it’s Rip Curl’s time to step into the big leagues as company founders Brian Singer and Doug “Claw” Warbrick have finally decided to sell. 

“After 50 years it’s an emotional event for us. Surfing and the surf industry has been an integral part of our lives for more than 50 years,” reads a statement attributed simply to “The Founders.” “We realise, Rip Curl, our baby has grown into an adult recognised all over the planet and we are proud that we have created one of the world’s great brands. We are confident the crew at Rip Curl will continue to look after the brand and products into the future. We look forward to supporting the crew on this journey.”

“It will be a new world for all of us after 50 years of private ownership, and our entire Crew would like to thank the Rip Curl Founders for everything they have done for surfing over the years,” said Rip Curl Group CEO Michael Daly. “Professionally, my team and I are excited by the opportunities that this will create and we look forward to joining Kathmandu and retaining our Vision of being regarded as the ultimate surfing company in all that we do.”

The press release went on to explain how both brands will “continue to run independently” and leverage their strategic advantages. If we sound skeptical it’s because we’ve seen how this plays out. From surf mags to surf rags, when it comes to corporate takeovers, there aren’t many success stories to point to in the marketplace. Rip Curl’s challenge will be to buck this trend. At the moment, Vans’ formula of staying true to their roots, supporting the core culture and backing relevant surfers would be the biggest exception. 

“Rip Curl transforms Kathmandu into a highly complementary, seasonally balanced, global outdoor and action sports business,” said Kathmandu’s CEO Xavier Simonet in the press release. “The combination will support the acceleration of our brands’ global expansion into new channels and markets. Sharing a focus on quality, innovation and sustainability, Kathmandu and Rip Curl make for a great cultural fit.”

Corpo buzz words aside, Rip Curl under their independence has brought surfing plenty of gifts. The most notable being The Search. Hopefully, said global expansion falls short of exposing some of the world’s most mysto set-ups. The lure of Rip Curl’s most successful marketing campaign, and the very essence of the brand itself, that it’s a surfer’s surf company, salty through and through. They’ve always made a point of not naming spots in their ads, rather focusing on the dream of perfection and that somewhere out there an empty lineup is calling. 

They backed that up with their unwavering support of Tom Curren, who continues to inspire the surf world with his unique take on the sport and lifestyle. Backing him up with world champs like Mick Fanning, Gabe Medina and Tyler Wright only cemented their reputation. And now they’ve got Mason Ho, arguably the most entertaining surfer in the world, waving their flag.

The press release doesn’t give away too much, but whatever happens, things are definitely changing in Torquay.

How it plays out remains to be seen.

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