Skate shoe retailer Duffs International was sold to its UK distributor today, Wednesday, March 19, by the brand’s Canadian parent company, Genfoot, Inc., resulting in several US employee lay-offs and headquarter shut downs, including the Oceanside, Calif. location, according to company officials and employees.
Duffs brand was purchased by Alex Hall, the owner of Duff’s UK distributor, Jackal Distribution, Richard Cook, Genfoot’s vice president of finance and accounting, said by phone around 2 p.m. Wednesday. Cook, who confirmed that the deal had only been in place for a few hours, said it was a bittersweet business decision for the company.
“Ultimately, over the last six month period – and I’m not sure really why – we have received half a dozen unsolicited offers to buy the company,” Cook said. “We have put a lot of time into the Duffs brand over the years and it’s nice to find someone who will take good care of it. The UK distributor – Jackal – they have been a big, important business partner with us for a number of years. I think the brand is in good hands.”
In a press release issued Thursday, March 20, the brand’s new owner revealed that a smaller branch of Jackal, dubbed Duffs 93 Ltd., will control the brand, building on its authenticity and past success to create new products, according to Hall.
“The product needed attention so we have staffed that area up to meet the demands of the retailers and the market,” Hall said. “We will be working very closely with our skate and BMX team to ensure the products are technically correct. In particualar our designersare looking forward to working alongside the team riders including Duffs icon and skate pro Louie Barletta on the development of his signature models and building other pro models. ”
As for rumors of US employee lay-offs, Cook said the company will continue to have close ties with its North American core team, including designers and heads of sales and will maintain its presence in the US. The company plans to lay off only two or three employees, he said. Hall reinforces Cook’s statements in the press release, stating that Scott Weaver, former Duffs International president, will continue to head up the North American sales effort and stay in close contact with US retailers.
Nate Sherwood, a Genfoot employee at the company’s Oceanside, Calif. location and a professional skateboarder, told Transworld Business that he would wrap up distribution from the site through April, at which time he would be out of a job and the building would be closed down and sold.
For Sherwood, who is the only employee at the Oceanside office, there is still a lot of work to be done. He said Wednesday that he hoped he would still be able to represent Duffs in the future.
“All the shops here who support us need some dude to talk to,” Sherwood said. “All I have to say is many shops will be bummed if I’m out.”
For more information about Duffs, visit it’s official Web site HERE.