Some big changes were announced in Burlington, Vermont today that are certain to send shockwaves throughout the snow, surf and skate industries. Burton Snowboards revealed a company-wide restructuring plan that will dramatically change the face of several brands residing under the company’s umbrella. Currently, the Burton Family of brands includes Analog, Gravis, RED, anon, Foursquare, Forum, Special Blend and Channel Islands.
Essentially, the company is shifting back towards its core focus — snowboarding. The new initiative will bring about the dissolution of several brands and closure of the company’s southern California headquarters located in Costa Mesa, which houses Analog and Gravis. According to Burton, this move will allow the company to maintain its status as a premier source of snowboarding gear and related products.
“Burton has experienced several years of income growth since the recession and paid out bonuses to employees over the last two years,” Burton Chief Executive Jake Burton said in a statement. “That said, the economy has a voice of its own that we all have to listen to, and the message is clear: do what you do best and focus purely on it. In our case, that means to narrow our focus to the sport and lifestyle that got us here—snowboarding.”
Analog, which is one of Burton’s premium clothing brands has historically catered to snow, surf and skate demographics. From now on, Analog will only create snow-inspired lines, with outerwear and technical offerings only released during the winter season. Their base of operations will also relocate to Burton’s snowy Vermont headquarters. Consumers will begin seeing changes to Analog product lines beginning Fall 2013.
Gravis Footwear is also seeing a transition that will not only physically relocate the brand’s facilities to Tokyo, Japan, but their product will soon only be distributed in Asian markets, where they enjoy the most popularity. With this move, the Gravis team will be restructured in a way that best accommodates the Asian market lifestyle. No specific word on what this means for the current team members.
RED helmet and protective wear will be re-branded to become a part of eyewear brand Anon. The current line will be supported and sold on a limited basis over the next year. Winter 2014 will see the debut of the Anon helmet line. Burton stated that they would be working with each RED and Anon rider on an individual basis in regards to the announcement.
The hardest hit by this restructuring plan are the “Program” brands, consisting of Foursquare, Forum and Special Blend. As of Winter 2014, Burton will cease production on all lines created for these three brands. According to Burton, none of the Program brands have been unable to achieve economic viability since their acquisition 8 years ago. Consumers can still expect warranty, service, dealer, marketing and inventory support during the next year. Burton has also stated that it remains committed to the team riders affected by the Program’s dissolution. They have pledged to work with their riders on an individual basis to come up with an exit plan to aid in their transition out of these brands.
Channel Islands Surfboards will remain unaffected at this time, which will certainly bring a sigh of relief to its employees and team riders. Burton will continue its support of operations in Carpentaria, California and its surf team.
Jake Burton closed by saying, “I take full responsibility for the decisions that led to the creation (or acquisitions) of these ancillary brands, and I similarly am the individual ultimately responsible for the decision to realign and focus more purely on what made this company from the start. Clearly, the most difficult aspect of this decision and transition is the people affected. The employees and team riders associated with these brands have poured their guts into making it happen. Their level of commitment has been extraordinary, and we will do everything we can to help support them through this transition. There is never a good time for moves like this, and we could have delayed the announcement, but it isn’t our style to perpetuate a myth. Clearly this transition will pose challenges along the way, but in the long run, everyone will see the results of our commitment to our core business.”
All in all, this is a huge change for the action sports industry. Several brands that we have grown to know and love will no longer be in existence. And an untold number of individuals will be forced to make adjustments to their career plans and geography. Despite its widespread reach, this move has the potential to help maintain a strong industry as it adapts in the face of a changing global economy (and climate). As with many situations in life, it’s important to shred aspects of our existence that are not serving us efficiently. While it is always sad to say goodbye to things we’ve grown accustomed to, in the spirit of snowboarding’s continued evolution, we can only hope that what remains will become even stronger.
We’ll just have to wait and see.