Nike may be about to sell Hurley

July 26, 2019 | Surfing
Hurley: an iconic surf brand founded by Bob Hurley in 1979 | Photo: ASP

Nike bought Hurley on May 12, 2004, for an undisclosed amount.

Now, anonymous sources cited by Reuters say that the world's largest sportswear manufacturer is looking for opportunities to sell the company founded by Bob Hurley.

The truth is that, in 15 years, the multinational corporation was never able to use its worldwide marketing muscle to boost the sales of the iconic surf brand.

Nike executives believe that traditional "surf brands have lost their appeal among non-surfing consumers," in a world paradoxically dominated by giant online retailers and small, boutique labels, and retro, urban trademarks.

A Long History

The history of Hurley dates back to the late 1970s. In 1978, Bob Hurley shaped the boards that helped Wayne "Rabbit" Bartholomew win the IPS World Circuit.

One year later, he decided to create Surfboards/International Pro Designs. Bob kicked off his business by producing boards for WindAnSea and Wave Tools.

He was also responsible for bringing the Australian brand Billabong to the United States. In 1999, and after not renewing Billabong USA's license, Hurley International was born.

Today, Hurley sells boardshorts, shoes, sands, surfwear, and wetsuits.

The legendary surf company has always maintained its headquarters in Costa Mesa, California.

John John Florence: he rides for Hurley | Photo: Nike

A Foggy Horizon for the Surf Industry

The surf industry has been showing signs of uncertainty, change, and stagnation in sales.

Surf companies were slow to adapt their practices and products to an increasingly environmentally aware market, and have always anchored their revenues on non-technical products like clothing and surf-related apparel.

Also, they kept adults in their mid-30s and 40s, and women out their marketing equation, thus limiting their potential customer base to a very young audience with low buying power.

The results of a still very conservative industry arrived in 2015 when Quiksilver USA filed for bankruptcy.

Last year, Boardriders Inc. - the company that owns Quiksilver, Roxy DC Shoes, RVCA, Element, Von Zipper, and Xcel - bought Billabong.

The iconic Australian had accumulated losses and debt and was struggling to keep afloat.

The future of the surf industry as we know it will have to be redesigned, having in mind that diversity, price, and ethical values now matter to the average consumer.

Hopefully, surfing's Olympic debut and the expansion of the wave pool business will bring a new era of prosperity to the sport.

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