Dakine is putting together a new European team at its new head office in the French alpine town of Annecy, with a new sales structure to cover the European market and a stronger focus on outdoor products for the winter and summer seasons. The European office of the brand moved to its new mountain location a couple of months ago from Hossegor on the French Basque coast, where it shared the premises with the European office of Billabong International, which sold Dakine to a San Francisco-based private investment firm, Altamont Capital Partners, in July 2013. The two towns are regarded as European hubs for the surf and outdoor industry, respectively.
Dakine, which focuses on high-quality and fun bags and other products for snow sports and summer outdoor activities, has had to disentangle its operations from those of the Billabong group. It has been hiring new staff to build up its own European office, with functions such as customer service, product development and design as well as marketing, sales and finance. Less than a dozen employees made the move from Hossegor to Annecy, where Dakine now has a staff of just under 25.
The company has not yet decided whether it should appoint a general European sales manager to take the place of André-Pierre Bonamy, who switched from Columbia Sportswear to become Dakine's European general manager in 2009. This industry veteran left the company in February to establish his own company, ABCD Sport, based in Hossegor. He is the general agent for Ternua in France and Belgium, Dachstein in France, and Altitude 8848, the Swedish ski-apparel brand, in France and Spain. Bonamy is also working with a nautical footwear company in Bali and is in talks with two lifestyle-apparel companies.
For the moment, Dakine's international management in Oregon is overseeing directly all international distributors as well as two new regional sales managers in Europe: Jean-Christophe Chetail, former sales manager in France, is the sales manager for southern Europe, covering France as well as Spain and Italy; while Michael Fiebig, who was handling sales in Germany, is based in Munich and heading another regional unit covering Germany, Austria, the U.K. and Ireland.
Emmanuel Debruyères, who worked for Billabong's outerwear even before its acquisition of Dakine, remains in charge of marketing for Dakine Europe. One of the team's new challenges will be the marketing of a new line of winter outerwear designed by Peter Line, an external designer who was hired by Dakine for this purpose a year ago. The professional American snowboarder was the founder of Forum 8 and worked for Foursquare, two snowboard brands that have been owned and supported by Burton for many years.
Billabong's sale has entailed fewer changes in Asia, where Dakine didn't have its own operations. As part of the sale, it was agreed that the Billabong group would retain distribution of the Dakine brand in Australia and New Zealand as well as Japan and South Africa. Dakine is only selling on a small scale and directly to retailers in China but has started studying other options, with a decision to be taken probably by the end of the year. It should be aided in this country by the launch of Dakine's own range of board shorts and swimwear, which will significantly broaden its product range for the summer season from next year.