Rip Curl, the Australian surf brand founded by two friends just a couple of kilometres from Victoria’s Bells Beach back in 1969, is up for sale according to an article in the Australian Financial Review .
Rip Curl founders, Doug “Claw” Warbrick and Brian “Sing Ding” Singer, who together own 72 per cent of the company, could make more than $100 million each if the brand fetches the hoped for price of close to $400 million. However, sources said $300 million would be a more realistic price.
Rip Curl has hired Bank of America Merrill Lynch to explore a partial or full sale of the business, which is understood to have suffered a decline in profits similar to Billabong International, which is also on the sales block following approaches from private equity giants TPG and Bain Capital.
Rip Curl is the second of the “Big Three” surf brands to publicly signal it’s failing fortunes after Billabong recently rejected a second takeover offer from private equity firm TPG for $1.45 a share, valuing the company at $700 million, much less than the $1.7 billion market valuation 12 months earlier.
With Billabong’s downgrade and dire forecast, the new ex-Target retail CEO Laura Inman announced that 150 of Billabong-owned stores would close around the world, and 400 full-time jobs would be shed – 80 of them in Australia alone.
The Australian surf brands have been hit by a retail downturn as young surfers increasingly search for the latest cool brand and a strong Australian dollar hurts exporters.
Mr Warbrick and Mr Singer founded Rip Curl at a time when surfing was a cottage industry.
The company initially made surfboards but a year later began producing wetsuits after the partners, spotting a gap in the market, took over an old house in Torquay and bought a pre-World War II sewing machine.