Volcom First To Hedge Bets Against Brutalizing Retail Economy
Iconic anti-Establishment Newport Beach brand battens down hatches, furloughs 75% US team, %100 European.
Count yourself very lucky if you haven’t felt the very real effects of the economic downturn the COVID-19 pandemic.
The service industry is in shambles. Restaurants in some of the most robust culinary cities in America are hanging on by a thread. Brick and mortar retail is at an absolute standstill (though heroic, brilliant efforts to stop the bleeding are being made online, brands banding together to #standsmall, etc.). With more than 75,000,000 American mandated to stay home, we are surely living through one of the most defining economic and social moments of the Century, one we’ll look back on the way our grandparents waxed poetic of the Great Depression’s bread lines and existential bare-bones.
Today Newport Beach’s iconic anti-Establishment brand Volcom furloughed 75% of their corporate American staff, and the entirety of their European operation.
According to Shop-Eat-Surf’s thoroughly excellent reporting (which we’ve heard from several Veeco staffers is 100% accurate), Volcom is “being proactive across the board because we don’t believe that the market is going to turn around anytime soon and we owe it our employees to not manage the business with optimism,” Volcom told SES in a statement.
“This virus and associated actions are moving so fast that one day feels like a decade, so we had to react swiftly.”
“Approximately 75% of U.S. staff is furloughed and nearly 100% of the European is staff furloughed. The U.S. company is paying all benefit costs and paying out paid time off accruals if requested. The staff will be eligible for unemployment. The EU staff is accessing their governments’ social benefits.”
“Our goal is to bring the staff back but right now, it’s like a free fall. Our offices and retail stores in U.S. and EU are closed until it’s safe to reopen.”
The decision is soberingly clear-eyed, an effort to keep the brand afloat in the long run, potentially re-employing veteran Stone figures when the ship rightens.
According to sources Stab spoke to on and off the record, we can expect several longtime Volcom surfers seeing the axe—at least temporarily—from the Volcom payroll, and many a high-dollar contract being thoroughly negotiated.
Volcom will be covering employee healthcare, while opening them up to California’s unemployment benefits. We’re told top-level CEOs, and co-owners are foregoing paychecks, to curtail as much bloodletting as possible.
Volcom sits somewhere in the middle of the surf industry’s dogpile, not quite an investment-buoyed big brand like the Boardriders spread, but not as nimble and streamlined as the smaller brands like Banks, Rhythm or Former.
As a brand that supported radical, disruptive surfers like Bruce Irons, Noa Deane, Andrew Doheny, Sion Milosky, and fostered such creative and entrepreneurial geniuses like Richard Woolcot, Ryan Thomas, and Troy Eckert, men responsible for some of the most iconic surf films of the last quarter-century, we cross our fingers for Volcom’s triumphant return to form after all this noise quiets, and hope you’ll support the brand as they try to rebuild. The whole site’s 40% off, currently.
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