Quiksilver Launches Fidra Golf Line

Quiksilver, the largest surf-apparel brand in the world, will debut anew golf-apparel line dubbed Fidra at next week’s Professional GolfAssociation trade show in Orlando, Florida.

The move toward the grassy links marks the brand’s first significantdeparture from the surf/skate/snow apparel arena. The brand will beheaded up by John Ashworth, co-founder of the golf-apparel company thatbears his last name — and a huge name in the golf business.

“John Ashworth is a true pioneer in the modern golf-apparel business,and we are fortunate to have him as a partner in this endeavor,” saysQuiksilver CEO Bob McKnight in a press release. “For quite some timewe’ve been analyzing the best way for Quiksilver to enter thegolf-apparel business. When John originally approached us, we decided tolend him a hand and provide him access to our resources. Now that we’veboth had time to evaluate this opportunity, we’ve decided to joinforces.”

Golfing and surfing might seem worlds apart, but in reality many prosurfers are grip-it-and-rip-it fanatics — including Kelly Slater whorecently appeared in a Quiksilver advertisement playing golf. However,surf/skate/snow retailers and golf retailers don’t have much in common,and Fidra represents an entirely new distribution avenue for Quiksilver– one of surfing’s few publicly traded companies.

According to Quik Executive Vice President Steve Tully, “Roxy andQuiksilver are mature businesses, so the launch of Fidra takes thepressure off us to grow those brands as rapidly as they’ve grown in thepast or greatly expand their existing distribution channels — althoughthere’s good growth anticipated for both brands.”

Tully says this is inline with Quiksilver’s strategy with Hawk Apparel(which gave them entrĂ©e into the skate market) and Alex Goes (which istargeted toward the 25- to 45-year-old women’s market). Tully admits,however, that there was at least a bit of crossover with existingaccounts with those two lines. With Fidra, the account base will bealmost entirely new and will be serviced by a completely separate salesforce.

So, will Fidra be throwing down the six- and seven-figure loot needed tosponsor a PGA hot shot? According to an article in San DiegoUnion-Tribune, Ashcroft says the marketing effort behind Fidra will bedecidedly low key. “We’re not throwing a bunch of marketing money atit,” Ashcroft told the U-T. “We’re doing it at a nice, steady pace.”

[IMAGE 1]But even making a small splash in the golf industry could have majorbottom-line implications. Golf ranks near the top of the NationalSporting Goods Association’s participation surveys with 27-millionactive participants. Surfing, in comparison, has about 1.3-millionparticipants, according to the NSGA.

While Quiksilver didn’t reach 516-million dollars in sales last yearselling products only to surfers, it’s likely Fidra will continue tobroaden the company’s consumer-demographic target.

“It certainly ages it a bit more,” says Tully. “It’s not a young man’sgolf line — it’s more for the guy who’s just out of college or theolder guy who’s a bit hipper. But at its base it’s still a market drivenby knit tops.”

While Tully can’t put an exact figure on the size of the golf-apparelmarket, he does says it’s “big business — probably in the billions ofdollars” and has been fueled by the rise of Tiger Woods. While Fidrawill likely be non-material to Quik’s bottom line (meaning it won’tgreatly affect the business), Tully doesn’t expect it to stay that way.”I haven’t put my finger on its growth potential,” he says, “but wenever get involved with something unless we expect it to make asignificant postive impact to Quiksilver’s bottom line. I wouldn’t besurprised if Fidra eventually did 50-million dollars a year in sales.”

Part of the reason Tully seems so optimistic is the brand’s associationwith Ashworth. “John carries with him a tremendous amount of equity –many in the golf industry know him and we received a lot of phone callsfrom peoplee showing interest in the brand once they knew he wasinvolved.” Ashworth will serve as president of the new division and willoversee the design process as well as sales and marketing.

“John will have plenty of talented help, including Vice President ofMerchandising Robert Redding — an experienced Quiksilver merchant,”says McKnight. “John and Robert have a similar sense of style, andtogether they make a great team. Additionally, John will have all theresources of Quiksilver at his disposal.”

According to Ashworth, “Quiksilver is the perfect match for me. For manyyears I’ve admired not only their accomplishments, but also their uniqueway of doing business. The first time I walked through the front door Iknew intuitively that this was the right venue for me to re-enter thegolf-apparel business.”

The name Fidra comes from a small rocky island just off the coast ofScotland — considered the birthplace of golf.

[IMAGE 2]Legend has it that a group of villagers from a town near Fidra laid outa nine-hole course in the early 1930’s. They didn’t have agroundskeeper, so each family was responsible for maintaining one hole.With no fee to play, the course served as a source of recreation and apopular meeting place.

So in golf, I guess the word Fidra is about as ‘core as they come.

McKnight says the line is designed for young male golfers between theages of 25 and 40. “We think there’s a real opportunity in this untappedniche in the golf-apparel business.” he says.

Quiksilver’s stock traded up six percent on the day of the announcement,opening at $21.62 and closing at $22.93.