Chilli Industries Founder Stuart Sawyer Talks About SMG’s Collapse

Sportsworld Media Group (SMG), the television-production company that signed a 12.75-million-dollar media and marketing deal with the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) back in November 2000, has been forced into receivership after its stocked plunged 87 percent in February and it was unable to receive another round of financial investment.

The decline was prompted by two profit warnings in less than three weeks. According to the Financial Times, Sportsworld blames the startling decline on a dramatic slowdown in the market for sports sponsorship, which SportsWorld CEO Geoff Brown calls the worst in twenty years.

Because of this, SMG will not be able to produce the television show for the upcoming Billabong Pro at Teahupoo in Tahiti, scheduled for May 7-18, 2002. “We had lots of backup plans in place,” says Billabong International Marketing Manager Graham Stapelberg about television production for the Teahupoo event. “Unfortunately, we’ve had to put those plans into motion.”

Stapelberg says he’s disappointed that the coverage from Billabong’s Teahupoo event won’t have the same look and feel as the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast and the Rip Curl Pro at Bells. “It’s kind of par for the course,” says Stapelberg about the situation. “The ASP needs to have a board meeting to discuss what it’s going to do moving forward. There also has to be some consideration given to the fact that SMG incurred the costs associated with producing the first two events of the year, but we’re covering the Teahupoo event.”

Chilli Industries, the SMG division responsible for the ASP’s television shows and news feeds, is continuing on as an independent entity and has been renamed Speed 9105.

The following is a message from Chilli founder Stuart Sawyer:

“As will now be known, Sportsworld Media Group Plc, the Parent Company that acquired Chilli Industries in 1999, went into administrative receivership in early April.

“In consequence, as a result of matters outside its control and through no fault of its own, Chilli was also forced into receivership.”

“This resulted in devastation, disappointment, and disbelief amongst the Chilli Team.”

“Notwithstanding this, the core Chilli crew has remained together to recreate what was special about Chilli. There has been much hard work and commitment shown over these last weeks and, despite the difficulties, it makes me proud to be involved with such a team.”

“In consequence, I have pleasure to announce that the same crew and production team that have delivered the quality production values on which the Chilli name was built, will now carry on in a new form.”

As of today, we are known as ‘Speed 9105’ trading as ‘Chilli Media’ remaining ‘Chilli’ through and through.”

“These last few weeks have been difficult times. Despite this, I have been surprised and touched at the incredible loyalty and positive attitude many have demonstrated.”

“The ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals) and the surf brands involved have shown tremendous moral support during this time as have the production and management team that have worked relentlessly in trying to maintain continuity for the ASP in the face of personal financial loss. We have many friends to thank for their kind words of encouragement and ongoing support in Australia, Hawai’i, Brazil, France, U.S., South Africa, and here in the U.K.”

“As to the future, we have agreed to new distribution arrangements with a number of established partners and colleagues in the television industry and we will distribute ASP Pro-Surfing and the SurfMag globally as scheduled commencing with the Quicksilver Pro, Gold Coast.”

“We are dedicated to get Chilli back to what it was and support the people who made it. The future is bright.”

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Check out TransWorld SURF Business‘ archives for a complete look at the rise and fall of the SMG/ASP media deal.