Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Faceless Corporations That Run Snowboarding

A couple of years back we took a look at all the big faceless corporations that exist behind the familiar brands of snowboarding (and skiing, and skateboarding, and surfing, and now rollerblading) and it was surprising to see just how big and seemingly unrelated to the sport they were. It's time to take another look and see what's changed over the last two and a half years...

And the news is:

  • There are four new corporations you've never heard of on the block (two publicly listed companies on the chart below and two private companies which only appear on the map).
  • Most of the listed corporations have grown significantly. The listed corporations involved in snowboarding in 2010 had a market value of $86billion, in 2012 they've grown to $131 billion.
  • Billabong is having a shitty time.

  • Five snowboard brands were acquired by corporations, the carcass of another shared with a second corporation and one plucky brand managed to become independent.
  • And the map looks all pretty and different. It still shows how all the brands and corporations are related and it gives a sense of the scale of each corporation. If you click on the map it should take you to a bigger version so you can dose up on the details...

If you want to know more about each company or you don't recognise any of the brand logos on the map here are the details...

Nike [NYSE:NKE] Mkt Cap USD $45.56billion
A new addition to the map, they weren’t included last time because they don’t own many sub-brands and most of their snowboarding influence comes through the main brand. At more than twice the size of any other company on this list it is comfortably the largest corporation involved in snowboarding.

PPR [EPA:PP] Mkt Cap USD $17.67billion
PPR are new in on this hot snowboarding action after they acquired Volcom in May 2011 for $607.5million. PPR are a French corporation who operate mostly in luxury good. They own some large clothing retailers, some sport brands (e.g Volcom, Tretorn and Puma) and a raft of luxury brands including Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Stella McCartney. Volcom were a publically listed company before they were bought out and they appeared on their own in the previous map.

Luxottica Group [NYSE: LUX] Mkt Cap USD $16.00billion
The Italian corporation is now the world’s largest eyewear company. As well as a couple of brands that operate in snowboarding they also produce sunglasses and prescription glasses under brands such as Polo Ralph Lauren, Versace, Tiffany, Vogue and Burberry. They acquired Ray-Ban in 1999 and Oakley for a cool 2.1billion dollars in 2007.

VF Corporation [NYSE: VFC] Mkt Cap USD $15.73billion
VF Corporation mainly focus on outdoor apparel and jeanswear. They’ve grown a little since the last map after they acquired Timberland in September 2011 for a hefty $2.3billion.

Adidas [ETR: ADS] Mkt Cap USD $14.99billion
Another corporation we missed out last time because they’re not the most prolific brand buyers.

Macquarie Group Ltd – Majority Stakeholder in Chartreuse & Mont Blanc [ASX: MQG] Mkt Cap USD $8.97billion
An Australian investment bank and one of only two corporations on this list to be worth less now than they were in 2010. Macquarie Group have lost about $6billion of their value, probably because they are complete and utter bankers.
Jarden – Minority Stakeholder in Chartreuse & Mont Blanc [NYSE:JAH] Mkt Cap USD $3.26billion
More about these guys later
Chartreuse & Mont Blanc - Holding Company

Amer Sports Corporation [NASDAQ: OMX] Mkt Cap USD $3.70billion
The world’s largest manufacturer of sports equipment harking from the icy land of Finland. They started life as a tobacco company and ever since they have been trying to make up for that. In an update of the last map they bought Nikita for 8million Euros ins December 2011.

Jarden [NYSE:JAH] Mkt Cap USD $3.26billion
A US conglomerate that mainly concentrates on consumer products like cookware, kitchen appliances and home storage, but they also now dabble in snowboarding when they acquired K2 Sports for 1.2 billion dollars in 2007.
Outdoor Solutions Group
K2 Sports   

Trilantic Capital Partners – 48.5% Stakeholder in Nixon - USD $2.6billion invested
A private equity investment firm and a part of the now demised Lehman Brothers they invest in all sorts of random shit. In February they earned their place on the map when they bought almost half of Nixon from Billabong International valuing Nixon at $464million.
Billabong International – 48.5% Stakeholder in Nixon [ASX: BBG] Mkt Cap USD $467.82million
More about these guys later.

Collective Brands Inc. [NYSE:PSS] Mkt Cap USD $1.31billion
The massive shoe conglomerate was formed in 2007 when Payless ShoeSource acquired Stride Right and somewhere in the mix they ended up with some snowboard brands.

Billabong International [ASX: BBG] Mkt Cap USD $467.82million
Since we last did this map in 2010 Billabong International have been having a miserable time, losing over 80% of their value. During the final flourish of their acquisition spree in 2010 they bought RVCA and West49, before things started to creak and they recently had to sell half of Nixon.

Quiksilver Inc. [NYSE: ZQK] Mkt Cap USD $403.7million
You’ve probably heard of these guys, they are doing OKish.

SPY Inc. [OTC:XSPY] Mkt Cap USD $20.20million
Exciting times at SPY, the last time we did this the company was called Orange 21 Inc, but since then they’ve changed all the stationary. We’ve got them in here to give a sense of scale to rest of these corporations.

Vision Service Plan [Private] 
The largest provider of vision insurance in the US and a not for profit business, they acquired Marchon Eyewear, a manufacturer and distributer of eyewear in 2008. They’ve been added to the map because in May this year they bought Dragon Alliance.

An old, strange and complex business based out of Hong Kong with interests in photography, marketing and a little bit of sports manufacturing on the side. They own the Flow and NXTZ brands and distribute Chuckbuddies dolls in the US. Although they don’t own Chuckbuddies we still put them on the map because we just liked the random connection.

Burton [Private]
The big news since last time is that Burton have sold DNA Distribution which included the skate brands Alien Workshop and Habitat. Burton are often rounded on for being the most sinister example of commercialization in snowboarding, but with their now almost entirely snowboard focused line-up of brands they look positively core and homespun when compared to most of these other strange conglomerates.

Sole Technology [Private]
They make skate shoes and snowboard boots, they’re run by former skateboard pro Pierre André Senizergues and I can’t for the life of me figure out how to pronounce his surname.

Tecnica Group [Private]
An Italian company mainly interesting because they are responsible for foisting the Moon Boot and Rollerblade brands on the world. They also used to Nitro…

Nitro [Private]
…but in 2011 the guys running Nitro bought it back from them

So there are all the runners and riders, the question is, which corporation is the most evil?

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Here's the map from 2010 if you're interested in seeing what has changed

In a similar vein here's an infographic on The History of Snowboard Manufacturers


  1. This kicks ass, I would like to see some kinda awesome chart graphing the indie companies as well.

    Maybe devided by certain things they do, instead of the size of the company.

  2. Super awesome! The only one I don't see in your kick ass graph is Elan, which is 68% owned by PDP which is a financial holding company owned by three state owned funds. Here are the details:

    Form the report, this is their philosophy: Our investment philosophy is to manage companies in portfolio
    through active approach to ownership and corporate governance,in order to ensure growth in revenue, earnings and value.

    1. Hi Ryan. Thanks for that, it looks interesting. Will probably have to add that one in the next time.

    2. Actually you should look into elan, if they will survive(snowboard factory that is), get bought(there are a couple interested parties). I know a lot of the brands there are shopping around in fear of what will happen at Elan...maybe they just move it to slovenia. Anyways, take a look

  3. Great article! It's interesting how you differentiate each companies and listed the brandnames and model of each bigtime corporation. Good job!

  4. Nitro is majority owned by the owner of playmaker

    1. +1

      And your forget the brands Nidecker / Yes - Jones - Slash - Now

    2. NOW is not part of Nidecker.

    3. The guy has a point. The brands are very much linked and they are part owned by Nidecker at the very least. Exactly what portion of each brand is owned by Nidecker isn't so clear.
      Here's the guy that runs the sales for the sub-brands who is employed by Nidecker


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