Putting Boardriders back on top in Europe: The Beaumanoir Group's ambitious strategy

06 June 2024 2423
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Beaumanoir, the Breton group that owns Cache Cache, Bonobo, La Halle, Morgan and more, is expanding its focus to sportswear. In February earlier this year, the group expressed their intention to buy the European activities of the Boardriders group, which supervises brands like Quiksilver, Billabong, Roxy, DC Shoes, Element, RVCA and VonZipper. The French Competition Authority has now approved the deal with American company Authentic Brands Group (ABG), and the deal has been completed. The task ahead of Beaumanoir is to now manage the development of significant assets in the boardsports sector. The managing director of Beaumanoir group's, Jérôme Drianno, highlights this for FashionNetwork.com.

This is a different field for the family-owned company which has been in the traditional ready-to-wear industry since the 1980s. Drianno expresses that the group is studying how to develop after the brands La Halle, Caroll and Sarenza were acquired. Lifestyle and sport have become increasingly popular, with this trend visible in the streets. Around the same time, the opportunity to work with Boardriders became available, and the strong foundation of Beaumanoir played a role in the decision of ABG amidst the competition, according to Drianno. The groups records an annual sale of roughly 2.3 billion euros, a marginal increase than the previous year, with 2,000 sales outlets. He comments, 'We aim to build on Boardriders' key strengths, primarily its iconic surf and snow brands and products. We're targeting strong growth for the group by enlarging the retail network, bolstering wholesale partnerships, and the web.'

The Beaumanoir Group plans to keep all the labels, and rejuvenate them in a new manner. The company intends to 'urbanise the collections' to expand into remote coastal and mountainous areas. Drianno also mentions brands like Element and RVCA, which have potential in their area, while brands like Quiksilver and Roxy will be promoted through a wide distribution. Additionally, the company plans to bring DC Shoes back to the forefront. To exemplify, he mentions brands like The North Face and Carhartt that have been successful in launching their products in the streets, while still being popular among sportspersons.

Wholesaling is a new method of selling for Beaumanoir, as sales of products to multi-brand vendors constitute 60% of the business of Boardriders Group, with thousands of accounts all over the continent. The CEO aims to 'maintain and nurture' these relationships, using the skills of their in-house team to manage this extensive portfolio, including brands like Intersport, Decathlon, JD and Amazon. He says, 'We will deliver our approach to sourcing, omnichannel subjects and data, in addition to our logistics power.' The plan is also to promote retail, a sector that only accounts for 20% of Boardriders' sales, with 200 addresses both for branded shops and corners. 'We intend to reopen our own stores. Some of our brands have vanished from the landscape.'

Drianno believes in the huge potential of the multi-brand 'Boardriders' concept, which only has nine outlets in Europe currently, highlighting that the brands of the Group complement each other. Department stores also offer 'an opportunity for growth,' in locations such as the El Corte Inglés network in Spain, which has a strong presence of Boardriders brands, unlike in France. France, followed by Spain/Portugal, then Switzerland/Austria/Germany, and finally the UK are the major markets in Western Europe for the group's seven brands. Additionally, the web is another area of expansion that Beaumanoir is keen to tap into.

A redundancy plan had been initiated, causing anxiety for the employees of Boardriders, whose European headquarters are in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques region. A job security plan was announced in March which led to the loss of 120 jobs from a site which had more than 500 people, according to local media Sud Ouest. Drianno says, 'We're going to address this issue, and our challenge is to inculcate momentum by eliminating the uncertainties through a long-term development outlook.'

In 2023, the American fund Oaktree Capital sold the group, which had a turnover of $2.9 billion (€2.67 billion), to Authentic Brands Group from New York City, which owns Reebok, Volcom, and Ted Baker amongst others. The latter has chosen to delegate the management of Boardriders to different regions in the world. Jérôme Drianno will be overseeing this new activity, while Nicolas Foulet retains his leadership role of Boardriders Europe. Beaumanoir now plans on taking a break from its ambitions of external growth to focus on this new asset. Drianno feels positive about 2024, notwithstanding the unpredictability of the market.