GLOBAL surf brand Quiksilver lost its way when it went public, corporatised, and wandered from the beach and its core market, according to a former company executive.
The company filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in the United States after a decline of 79% in its market value this year. It has asked the courts to endorse a $279 debt-for-equity swap with Oaktree Capital Management, the company that also stepped in to finance the restructure of Billabong.
Quiksilver Australia's president, former AFL player Greg Healy, says the company's operations here - which include 40 stores and 230 employees - remain strong.
Norm Innis worked for the company from 1982 to 2004, serving as general manager of Quiksilver International and managing director of Quiksilver Australia and Quiksilver Asia-Pacific.
Now living in Noosa and about to step down as chairman of Surfing Australia, Mr Innis said he first became uneasy at a Quiksilver global conference in Miami in 2003.
"There were about 30 people in the room and only half a dozen surfed. I realised then something was very wrong," he said.
"Two years later they held it in Arizona.
"In the early years they were at Tavarua or on the North Shore. You had to paddle out at sunset to be able to join the meeting."
Mr Innis, awarded an OAM for his services to the sport and the industry and his philanthropic activities, said Quiksilver would survive if it returned to its core market.
He said going public, as both Billabong and Quiksilver had done, led to a change in ethic that reached outside the core market in pursuit of top line sales growth.
"There is an argument that once it went corporate it brought in professional people who didn't surf and didn't have a belief in the core product," Mr Innis said.
It went mainstream to boost sales but lost profitability in the process.
In the push to build Quiksilver into a $1 billion and then $2 billion company some executives on enormous packages and bonuses "made a motza" and then walked away, leaving a company with a lot of debt which ultimately caught up with it.
Mr Innis said surf companies had existed in Australia for 40 years and could do so for another 40 if they concentrated on their bottom line and reached back to their core market.
"It needs to regroup and move away from the corporates," he said.
"Greg Healy surfs, he gets it."
Quiksilver is expected to continue sponsorship of events in France and on the Gold Coast and to retain its stable of elite athletes - minus World Surf League professional, Hawaiian Fred Patacchia, who ended his career spectacularly in California this week scoring a perfect 10 in his heat before announcing his retirement.
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