Skip to main content
Select Source:

Quiksilver, Inc.

Quiksilver, Inc.

15202 Graham Street
Huntington Beach, California 92649
U.S.A.
Telephone: (714) 889-2200
Fax: (714) 889-2315
Web site: http://www.quiksilver.com

Public Company
Incorporated:
1976 as Quiksilver U.S.A.
Employees: 4,350
Sales: $1.78 billion (2005)
Stock Exchanges: New York
Ticker Symbol: ZQK
NAIC: 315223 Men's and Boys' Cut and Sew Shirt (Except Work Shirt) Manufacturing; 315228 Men's and Boys' Cut and Sew Other Outerwear Manufacturing; 315232 Women's and Girls' Cut and Sew Blouse and Shirt Manufacturing; 315999 Other Apparel Accessories and Other Apparel Manufacturing; 339920 Sporting and Athletic Goods Manufacturing

Quiksilver, Inc. designs, produces, and distributes casual sportswear, footwear, winter sports apparel and equipment, and golf equipment, selling its merchandise in surf shops, department stores, specialty stores, and in the company's own stores, a chain of 158 Boardriders Club stores. Quiksilver's merchandise is sold under numerous brand names, including Quiksilver, Roxy, Raisins, DC Shoes, Radio Fiji, Gotcha, Fidra, Hawk Clothing, Rossignol, Dynastar, Lange, Leilani, Lib Technologies, Gnu, and Bent Metal. The company generates roughly one-fifth of its revenue from the sale of T-shirts, its most important product category. Quiksilver relies on international business for slightly more than half of its revenue.

ORIGINS

The Quiksilver name first appeared in the United States thanks to the entrepreneurial efforts of two inveterate surfers, Robert B. McKnight and Jeffrey Hakman. Hakman was the more accomplished surfer of the two, having won several international surfing championships, but McKnight shared an equal passion for the sport and its attendant lifestyle. Born and raised in Pasadena, California, McKnight graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in business in 1976, the year he decided to move to Oahu, Hawaii, and spend his days surfing on the island's world renowned north shore. While on Oahu McKnight renewed his friendship with Hakman and together the two surfing addicts discussed their desire to start a business that could finance their days on the beach. They decided to try to get the licensing rights for Quiksilver, a seven-year-old company based in Torquay, Australia, where it was founded by two surfers, Alan Greene and John Law.

For McKnight and Hakman, obtaining the licensing rights to Quiksilver represented a perfect opportunity to turn their favorite pastime into a vocation. The company's boardshorts and swimsuits, which were tight-fitting and outfitted with velcro straps, were quickly becoming the rage among surfers in Australia, turning the Quiksilver brand name into a highly coveted, trendy label. McKnight and Hakman hoped to achieve commensurate success with the Quiksilver name in the United States, but neither of the two aspiring entrepreneurs thought of creating a beach wear apparel empire, particularly McKnight, whose business intentions were modest. Reflecting on his entry into the business world, McKnight explained, "I thought I could make a few shorts and stay near the beach and party." Despite his less than grandiose plans, McKnight soon found himself guiding the fortunes of a rapidly growing, flourishing enterprise. "I never thought the business would fail," McKnight remembered, "I just didn't expect it to get so big so quickly."

McKnight and Hakman's surprising success with the Quiksilver brand name began in April 1976, when Hakman entered a surfing competition in Australia. Hakman won the event, and as luck would have it, he met Greene and Law and sat up all night with Quiksilver's owners eating, drinking champagne, and discussing the possibility of securing the U.S. licensing rights to the Quicksilver name. After plates of food and bottles of champagne, Greene and Law agreed to sell Quiksilver's U.S. rights to McKnight and Hakman on one condition, a unique proviso that became the first obstacle the two Americans had to hurdle in order to launch themselves into business. The duty of fulfilling Greene and Law's demand fell solely to Hakman; McKnight, back in Hawaii, could be of no assistance. Greene and Law informed Hakman that they would agree to the proposal provided Hakman ate the large paper doily under his plate, which Hakman promptly did. After swallowing the plate-sized piece of paper, Hakman shook hands with Greene and Law and placed a call to Oahu to tell McKnight of the good news.

McKnight, who spearheaded the business end of the venture, offered the specifics of the proposal to Greene and Law. McKnight and Hakman invested no money, but agreed to pay a royalty of 1 percent of sales for three years, which jumped to 3 percent after three years, and an additional 1 percent of sales to support international promotions. Next, McKnight hurried to secure the capital required to launch the business. He returned to California and asked his father, who was a sporting goods importer, to lend him $20,000 to finance a production run of Quicksilver apparel. McKnight's father agreed, and a few months after Hakman's all-nighter with Quicksilver's Australian owners, the two young Americans were ready to start production for their new company, Quiksilver U.S.A.

McKnight and Hakman debuted their first line of apparel in the summer of 1976. They bought some fabric on credit and manufactured 600 pairs of boardshorts, featuring six separate designs, for their first season. The two entrepreneurs then took their boardshorts, which were priced higher but were more colorful than similar merchandise produced by established rivals Ocean Pacific and Hang Ten, and peddled them to three surf shops in Southern California. With their product distributed, all McKnight and Hakman could do was wait and see if they had made a prudent move. In nine days, the 600 pairs of boardshorts were nowhere to be found on the shelves and racks of the three surf shops, having sold out with encouraging speed.

COMPANY PERSPECTIVES

Quiksilver has developed from a 1970s boardshort company into a multinational apparel and accessory company grounded in the philosophy of youth. Our mission is to become the leading global youth apparel company; to maintain our core focus and roots while bringing our lifestyle message of boardriding, independence, creativity and innovation to this global community. Individual expression, an adventurous spirit, authenticity and a passionate approach are all part of young people's mindset and are the essence of our brands. Combine this with the aesthetic appeal of beaches and mountains, and a connection is established that transcends borders and continents. Include thirty-plus years of quality, innovation and style, and you have Quiksilver.

Several years after their remarkably successful inaugural year of business, McKnight and Hakman found themselves surrounded by a wealth of new competitors, as start-up after start-up entered the active beach wear industry. The influx of new competition created a contentious marketing environment for such companies as Quiksilver, but McKnight and Hakman kept their operation lean, eschewing debt, and remained tightly focused on producing the type of merchandise that first launched them toward success. Describing this period in the company's history, McKnight noted, "While everyone else was making swimwear, we were setting the standard for surfwear," an approach that would hold Quiksilver in good stead in the decades ahead. "We've been successful," McKnight went on to explain, "because our philosophy has always been to bring the image off the beach and into the stores. Since we were all surfers, we knew what kids wanted."

EXPANSION

McKnight's commitment to his business strategy successfully carried Quiksilver through its fledgling years, creating a firmly established company by the beginning of the 1980s. The 1980s witnessed a host of sweeping changes that reshaped Quiksilver as it maneuvered through its corporate adolescence, beginning in 1981 when Hakman exited the business, leaving on amicable terms with McKnight to return to Australia and surf. Four years later, a turning point in Quiksilver's history occurred when McKnight took Quiksilver to the next plateau of the retail apparel business and began distributing Quiksilver merchandise to department stores.

The foray into the retail mainstream began gradually and conservatively, manifesting two defining characteristics of Quicksilver's development during its first decade. The move into department stores marked the beginning of the company's evolution into a more sophisticated enterprise. As the 1980s progressed, Quiksilver became more than a business whose chief objective was to finance McKnight's surfing and partying at the beach. A full-fledged corporation was in the making, propelling Quiksilver's growth forward at a substantially faster pace and engendering the attendant pitfalls of rapid growth.

Following McKnight's decision to expand Quicksilver, the company celebrated the conclusion of its first decade of business by completing its initial public offering (IPO) of stock in December 1986, when annual sales were up to $19 million and the stock market was receptive to small-sized companies such as Quiksilver. McKnight and his minority partners sold 50 percent of the company to the public, raising $16 million to bolster Quiksilver's financial foundation as it developed its department store business. With the proceeds gained from the public offering, McKnight bought the Quiksilver trademark for the United States and Mexico, paid off all the company's short- and long-term debts, and expanded Quiksilver's line of production runs in preparation for greater department store business. From 1986 the company operated under the name Quiksilver, Inc.

As Quiksilver intensified its involvement with department stores, eventually distributing its merchandise to retailers such as Macy's, Marshall Fields, Dayton Hudson, and the Dillard Group, McKnight decided to a bring in someone with greater experience in dealing with department stores. In July 1987, McKnight hired John C. Warner, who at the time was senior vice-president and general merchandising manager of Macy's Department Stores' Denver operation. Initially, Warner was hired as head of sales, but he quickly proved to be a tremendous asset and seven months after joining the company was named chairman and chief executive officer of Quiksilver.

With Warner occupying the two top managerial posts and McKnight serving as president, Quicksilver moved headlong into fostering the growth of its department store business. Sales in 1987 amounted to $30 million and shot up the following year to $48.3 million, while earnings rose to $3.7 million. Sales to department stores made up 40 percent of Quiksilver's $48.3 million in sales in 1988, and offered tangible evidence that the company had made commendable progress into the retail mainstream. The company's range of merchandise had expanded substantially as well, growing well beyond the original line of six styles of boardshorts. Once the sole source of revenue for the company, boardshorts by the late 1980s accounted for only 18 percent of total annual sales, while the balance was derived from a host of different apparel items. T-shirts accounted for 15 percent of total sales, shirts 11 percent, pants 12 percent, fleece wear 9 percent, walking shorts 27 percent, jackets 4 percent, and surfing accessories another 4 percent.

KEY DATES

1969:
Quiksilver is founded in Torquay, Australia.
1976:
Robert B. McKnight and Jeffrey Hakman acquire the licensing rights to Quiksilver and form Quiksilver U.S.A.
1985:
Quiksilver begins distributing merchandise to department stores.
1986:
Quicksilver completes its initial public offering of stock.
1988:
Quicksilver launches a skiwear line.
1993:
The Raisin Company, Inc. is acquired, which adds a line of women's swimwear and sportswear.
1997:
Quiksilver acquires Mervin Manufacturing, Inc.
2000:
Quiksilver acquires Quiksilver International Pty Ltd., part of the company's bid to secure control over the worldwide rights to the Quiksilver brand.
2004:
Quiksilver acquires DC Shoes, Inc.
2005:
Quiksilver acquires Groupe Rossignol SA.

In addition to these products, the company also was moving beyond purely surfing-related merchandise, diversifying its business as the strength of the Quiksilver brand name increased. In 1988, the company introduced six skiwear designs, offering the same number of styles as it had 12 years earlier with boardshorts. The initial success of the skiwear line nearly matched the initial success of the boardshort line, selling out in five weeks and grossing $500,000.

The growing spectrum of Quiksilver products appeared in roughly 2,000 stores nationwide during the late 1980s, including in the original three surf shops that purchased the company's first line of boardshorts in 1976. Fueled by this vast distribution system, annual sales leaped from the $48 million registered in 1989 to more than $70 million in 1989. By this point, when sales to department stores accounted for nearly 50 percent of total sales, some industry observers predicted that the company would become too big and low-price retailers would begin selling their merchandise, a development that would erode profitability and potentially tarnish the appeal of the Quiksilver name to the hard-core surfing set. Aware of the problem, Warner confided to a California Business reporter in 1989, "We have no illusions that our growth as Quiksilver in our existing businesses is limited somewhat down the road, but we want to continue growing and will do so by acquisition, start-up, or licensing."

DIVERSIFICATION

As the company entered the 1990s, it continued to record robust sales gains. Sales in 1990 neared the $100 million mark, fueled by the continued success of the company's traditional line of surfing apparel, but the early years of the decade signaled a disruption in Quiksilver's rousing 1980s rise. Two trends emerged during the early 1990s, both of which negatively affected Quiksilver. First, a nationwide economic recession developed, sending many retailers reeling, particularly the large department stores that accounted for the bulk of Quiksilver's business. To combat the recession, department stores reduced the amount of square footage devoted to selling young men's apparel among other things, which caused Quiksilver's sales to dip. Exacerbating this development was the growing popularity of the "grunge" look during the early 1990s, a fashion style that embraced muted, earthy hues rather than the flashy, colorful styles that had predicated Quiksilver's popularity during the 1980s. As a result, Quiksilver's neon boardshorts were no longer the rage of the day, and the company began to suffer.

To beat back the effects of the recession and changing fashion tastes, Quiksilver diversified its apparel lines and refocused its efforts toward selling to specialty stores. In 1991, the company acquired Na Pali, S.A., the European licensee of the Quiksilver brand in Europe, and established a subsidiary headquartered in France to design and produce Quiksilver apparel for all countries in Western Europe. By the mid-1990s, Quiksilver was collecting more than 30 percent of its total annual revenues from its European operation, a definite contribution to the company's resurgence by the middle part of the decade. Help came from elsewhere as well, including the company's foray into producing snowboard clothing and its entrance into the market for women's sportswear. Women's sportswear became a key facet of Quiksilver's business following the company's November 1993 acquisition of The Raisin Company, Inc., a manufacturer of women's swimwear and sportswear. Aided by the addition of a strong European business, a return to the specialty and surf shops, and the expansion of its apparel lines, Quiksilver survived the recession and stood firmly positioned as a market leader by the mid-1990s.

During the mid-1990s, Quiksilver derived roughly 40 percent of total revenues from surf shops and nearly 45 percent from specialty shops. After building its department store business significantly during the latter half of the 1980s, the company had largely abandoned these retailers by the mid-1990s, deriving less than 15 percent of total sales from department stores. This shift back to the company's roots was perceived as a positive step by a number of industry analysts, as was the company's encouraging financial growth. Between 1992 and 1995, annual net income rose from $371,000 to more than $10 million, while sales leaped from $89 million to $172 million. As the company prepared for the late 1990s in the wake of this robust growth, expectations were high, fueling confidence that years ahead would strengthen Quiksilver's market position as a dominant force.

19952005: CREATION OF AN INDUSTRY GIANT

Few industry observers could have predicted the phenomenal growth Quicksilver achieved as it progressed toward its 30th anniversary. The company, in the course of a decade, evolved from a surf brand into a global leader in the outdoor sports lifestyle market, completing a leap in stature that evoked comparisons to industry behemoth Nike, Inc. The magnitude of Quicksilver's financial and physical growth was staggering: The company that was flirting with the $200 million-in-sales mark during the mid-1990s had the $2 billion plateau within sight a decade later; the ranks of Quiksilver employees increased by a factor of ten, exploding from 400 to more than 4,000; international operations grew with a flourish, fanning out from France to encompass all of Europe before spreading into Asia and the Pacific region. The relentless charge forward was led by McKnight.

To increase the breadth and depth of his company McKnight assumed the posture of an aggressive acquirer. Internal growth accounted for a meaningful portion of the growth achievedgains made through the expansion of the company's existing product lines, the establishment of international subsidiaries, and the creation of a retail armbut the purchase of other companies highlighted Quicksilver's rise. Acquisitions provided entry into new lines of business, giving Quiksilver an established presence in new markets literally overnight, and they provided nearly immediate financial benefits, enabling McKnight to point to surging sales and profit totals far sooner than if he had relied solely on internal means of expansion. As the company's acquisition campaign progressed, Quiksilver became the promoter of an ever expanding roster of brands, beginning with the purchase of Mervin Manufacturing, Inc. in 1997. Mervin manufactured Lib Technologies and Gnu snowboards, as well as Bent Metal snowboard bindings, paving Quiksilver's entry into the snowboard market. In 2000, Quiksilver acquired Hawk Designs, owner of the famed Tony Hawk skateboarding name for apparel and related accessories, and created Hawk Clothing, but the year's most significant move took the company back to its roots.

As Quiksilver entered a new century, McKnight seized control over the empire he was building. In July 2000, he acquired Quiksilver International Pty Ltd., the company that had originally created the Quiksilver brand. The acquisition gave McKnight all international rights to use the Quiksilver and Roxy trademarks, a right that previously was limited to use in the United States and Mexico. Another step toward gaining global control over the two brands was completed at the end of 2002, when McKnight acquired Ug Manufacturing Co. Pty Ltd. and Quiksilver Japan KK, which had licensed through Quiksilver International to operate in Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and additional southeast Asian territories. By the end of 2003, after one full year of controlling the Quicksilver and Roxy brands, the company revenues pressed toward the $1 billion mark, reaching $975 million.

McKnight completed two more acquisitions before Quiksilver's 30th anniversary, adding substantially sized operations that enabled the company to hurtle past $1 billion in sales and nearly reach $2 billion. In May 2004, Quiksilver purchased DC Shoes, Inc., a designer and manufacturer of footwear, apparel, and accessories that catered to consumers drawn to skateboarding. The acquisition increased the company's revenues by 7 percent in 2004, helping lift its revenue total to $1.23 billion. Roughly a year after the DC Shoes purchase, McKnight added more than $600 million to Quiksilver's revenue volume by acquiring Voiron, France-based Groupe Rossignol SA, a leader in the ski industry that also owned a golf equipment manufacturer. For approximately $320 million, McKnight acquired a host of new brands, including Rossignol, Dynastar, Look, Lange, and Cleveland Golf. Rossignol ranked as the world's largest maker of skis and bindings and the third largest producer of ski boots, but perhaps the most appealing facet of the company's business was that it only generated 7 percent of its revenue from the sale of apparel, Quiksilver's specialty. Rossignol's relatively small apparel business offered Quiksilver room for growth, a potential the company perceived in many of its other businesses. Accordingly, as the company prepared for the future, it was expected to rely on internal means of growth to continue its evolution into a sports lifestyle giant. "If you do the math," a Quiksilver executive said in a May 2, 2005 interview with Footwear News, "without any more acquisitions we should be able to get to $3 billion or $4 billion in sales in the next five to seven years. We think there is lots of growth potential there. If some incredible deal shows up and it makes sense, then we'd have to look hard at it, but we're not looking for a big deal to do in the near future."

PRINCIPAL SUBSIDIARIES

Fidra, Inc.; Hawk Designs, Inc.; Mervin Manufacturing, Inc.; Mt. Waimea, Inc.; QS Optics, Inc.; QS Retail, Inc.; Quiksilver Entertainment, Inc.; Quiksilver Wetsuits, Inc.; DC Shoes, Inc.; DC Direct, Inc.; Quiksilver Americas, Inc.; QS Wholesale, Inc.; UMTT Pty Ltd. (Australia); Carribean Pty Ltd. (Australia); Pavilion Productions Pty Ltd. (Australia); QSJ Holdings Pty Ltd. (Australia); Quiksilver Australia Pty Ltd.; Quiksilver International Pty Ltd. (Australia); Ug Manufacturing Co. Pty Ltd. (Australia); Watermoons Pty Ltd.; DC Australia Pty Ltd.; Andaya SARL (France); Cariboo SARL (France); Emerald Coast SA (France); Infoborn SARL (France); Kokolo SARL (France); Na Pali SAS (France); Na Pali Entertainment SARL (France); Na Pali Europe SARL (France); Omareef Europe SAS (France); Tavarua SCI (France); DC Europe SARL (France); Zebraska SARL (France); Kauai GmbH (Germany); Makaha GmbH (Germany); Quiksilver Asia Sourcing Ltd. (Hong Kong); Quiksilver Greater China Ltd. (Hong Kong); DC Shoes International Ltd. (Hong Kong); PT Quiksilver Indonesia; Namotu Ltd. (Ireland); Haapiti SRL (Italy); Moorea SRL (Italy); Quiksilver Japan K.K.; QS Holdings SARL (Luxembourg); Urban Surf (Malaysia); Pukalani BV (Netherlands); Tuvalu BV (Netherlands); Ug Manufacturing Co. Pty Ltd. (New Zealand); Rawaki sp z.o.o. (Poland); Kiribatti Lda (Portugal); Tarawa Lda (Portugal); Bakio SL (Spain); Quiksilver Europa, SL (Spain); Sumbawa SL (Spain); Town Surf (Thailand); Escatade Ltd. (U.K.); Lanai Ltd. (U.K.); Molokai Ltd. (U.K.); Sunshine SA (Switzerland); Longboarder GmbH (Switzerland).

PRINCIPAL COMPETITORS

Billabong International Ltd.; NIKE, Inc.; Pacific Sunwear of California, Inc.; Burton Snowboards Inc.

FURTHER READING

Bailey, Lee, "Quik Expands in SOHO," Daily News Record, November 14, 2005, p. 1.

Barron, Kelly, "Quiksilver Surfwear Explains Its Third-Quarter," Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News, September 13, 1996, p. 9.

Basas, M. Susan, "Quiksilver Inc.," Investor's Business Daily, February 19, 2003, p. A8.

Buchalter, Gail, "Do What You Wanna Do," Forbes, October 3, 1988, p. 82.

, "Fun, Fun, Fun," California Business, July 1989, p. 16.

Cuneo, Alice Z., "Quiksilver Aims to Cash in on Pop-Culture Surf Craze," Advertising Age, June 9, 2003, p. 18.

David, Gregory E., "Quiksilver: Don't Catch This Wave," Financial World, January 17, 1995, p. 18.

Driscoll, Marie, "Quiksilver Catches a Growing Wave," Business Week Online, April 27, 2004.

Gorrell, Mike, "Outdoors Retailer Chooses Park City," Salt Lake Tribune, September 7, 2005.

Kletter, Melanie, "Quiksilver Establishes Global Corporate Team," WWD, July 8, 2005, p. 19.

Luna, Nancy, "Surfwear Giant Quiksilver Confirms That It's Buying the Rossignol Ski Empire," Orange County Register, March 23, 2005.

Marsh, Emilie, "Global Surfin' Safari," WWD, June 30, 2005, p. 1.

Martinez, Brian, "Quiksilver CEO: Board-Sport Industry Unlimited," Orange County Register, June 23, 2005.

Nelson, Alexandra, "Sadeghi Exits Post at Quiksilver, Inc.," Daily News Record, July 21, 1992, p. 2.

Nguyen, Hang, "Quiksilver Posts Almost 30 Percent Jump in Net Income," Orange County Register, September 9, 2005.

Niemi, Wayne, "Quiksilver, DC Moving Fast," Footwear News, May 2, 2005, p. 4.

Pallay, Jessica, "Quiksilver Opens Single-Sex Store," Daily News Record, August 25, p. 16.

Price, Shawn, "Surfwear Giants Billabong, Quiksilver Take to Skies in Latest Stage of Rivalry," Orange County Register, December 15, 2004.

"Quiksilver Buys Rossignol," Sporting Goods Business, April 2005, p. 12.

"Quiksilver Earnings Up 10 Percent, Sales Jump 15 Percent in 2nd Quarter," Daily News Record, September 26, 1996, p. 5.

Slovak, Julianne, "Quiksilver," Fortune, February 26, 1990, p. 90.

Tschorn, Adam, "Quiksilver Heads for the Hills," Daily News Record, March 28, 2005, p. 2.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Quiksilver, Inc.." International Directory of Company Histories. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Quiksilver, Inc.." International Directory of Company Histories. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/books/politics-and-business-magazines/quiksilver-inc

"Quiksilver, Inc.." International Directory of Company Histories. . Retrieved October 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/books/politics-and-business-magazines/quiksilver-inc

Quiksilver, Inc.

Quiksilver, Inc.

1740 Monrovia Avenue
Costa Mesa, California 92627
U.S.A.
(714) 645-1395
Fax: (714) 722-4261
Web site: http://www.quiksilver.com

Public Company
Incorporated:
1976 as Quiksilver U.S.A.
Employees: 454
Sales: $172.7 million (1995)
Stock Exchanges: NASDAQ
SICs: 2321 Mens/Boys Shirts; 2331 Womens/Misses Blouses & Shirts; 2329 Mens/Boys Clothing, Not Elsewhere Classified; 2339 Womens/Misses Outerwear, Not Elsewhere Classified

A celebrated name among surfers across the globe, Quiksilver, Inc. designs and distributes casual sportswear, beachwear, and snowboard wear, marketing its apparel under the Quiksilver, Roxy, Private Surf, Que, and Raisin labels. Although Quiksilver produced a broad range of apparel items for several distinct types of customers during the mid-1990s, the companys chief focus has been setting fashion trends for surfers. Founded by two young American surfers in 1976, Quicksilver recorded enviable success with its boardshorts, swimsuits, and other surfing apparel and accessories during its first decade of business. Encouraged by this success, the companys management diversified into other types of active wear during the 1980s and began selling merchandise through department stores, rather than dealing exclusively with smaller specialty shops. The maturation of the narrowly focused start-up company developed it into a multi-faceted corporation that reigned as a market leader during the 1990s.

Origins

The Quiksilver name first appeared in the United States thanks to the entrepreneurial efforts of two inveterate surfers, Robert B. McKnight and Jeffrey Hakman. Hakman was the more accomplished surfer of the two, having won several international surfing championships, but McKnight shared an equal passion for the sport and its attendant lifestyle. Born and raised in Pasadena, California, McKnight graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in business in 1976, the year he decided to move to Oahu, Hawaii, and spend his days surfing on the islands world renowned north shore. While on Oahu McKnight renewed his friendship with Hakman and together the two surfing addicts discussed their desire to start a business that could finance their days on the beach. They decided to try to get the licensing rights for Quiksilver, a six year-old company based in Torquay, Australia, where it was founded by two surfers, Alan Greene and John Law.

For McKnight and Hakman, obtaining the licensing rights to Quiksilver represented a perfect opportunity to turn their favorite pastime into a vocation. The companys boardshorts and swimsuits, which were tight-fitting and outfitted with velcro straps, were quickly becoming the rage among surfers in Australia, turning the Quiksilver brand name into a highly coveted, trendy label. McKnight and Hakman hoped to achieve commensurate success with the Quiksilver name in the United States, but neither of the two aspiring entrepreneurs thought of creating a beach wear apparel empire, particularly McKnight, whose business intentions were modest. Reflecting on his entry into the business world, McKnight explained, I thought I could make a few shorts and stay near the beach and party. Despite his less than grandiose plans, McKnight soon found himself guiding the fortunes of a rapidly growing, flourishing enterprise. I never thought the business would fail, McKnight remembered, I just didnt expect it to get so big so quickly.

McKnight and Hakmans surprising success with the Quiksilver brand name began in April of 1976, when Hakman entered a surfing competition in Australia. Hakman won the event, and as luck would have it, he met Greene and Law and sat up all night with Quiksilvers owners eating, drinking champagne, and discussing the possibility of securing the U.S. licensing rights to the Quicksilver name. After plates of food and bottles of champagne, Greene and Law agreed to sell Quiksilvers U.S. rights to McKnight and Hakman on one condition, a unique proviso that became the first obstacle the two Americans had to hurdle in order to launch themselves into business. The duty of fulfilling Greene and Laws demand fell solely to Hakman; McKnight, back in Hawaii, could be of no assistance. Greene and Law informed Hakman that they would agree to the proposal provided Hakman ate the large paper doily under his plate, which Hakman promptly did. After swallowing the plate-sized piece of paper, Hakman shook hands with Greene and Law and placed a call to Oahu to tell McKnight of the good news.

McKnight, who spearheaded the business end of the venture, offered the specifics of the proposal to Greene and Law. McKnight and Hakman invested no money, but agreed to pay a royalty of one percent of sales for three years, which jumped to three percent after three years, and an additional one percent of sales to support international promotions. Next, McKnight hurried to secure the capital required to launch the business. He returned to California and asked his father, who was a sporting goods importer, to lend him $20,000 to finance a production run of Quicksilver apparel. McKnights father agreed, and a few months after Hakmans all-nighter with Quicksilvers Australian owners, the two young Americans were ready to start production for their new company, Quiksilver U.S.A.

McKnight and Hakman debuted their first line of apparel in the summer of 1976. They bought some fabric on credit and manufactured 600 pairs of boardshorts, featuring six separate designs, for their first season. The two entrepreneurs then took their boardshorts, which were priced higher but were more colorful than similar merchandise produced by established rivals Ocean Pacific and Hang Ten, and peddled them to three surf shops in Southern California. With their product distributed, all McKnight and Hakman could do was wait and see if they had made a prudent move. In nine days, the 600 pairs of boardshorts were nowhere to be found on the shelves and racks of the three surf shops, having sold out with encouraging speed.

Several years after their remarkably successful inaugural year of business, McKnight and Hakman found themselves surrounded by a wealth of new competitors, as start-up company after start-up company entered the active beach wear industry. The influx of new competition created a contentious marketing environment for companies like Quiksilver, but McKnight and Hakman kept their operation lean, eschewing debt, and remained tightly focused on producing the type of merchandise that first launched them toward success. Describing this period in the companys history, McKnight noted, While everyone else was making swimwear, we were setting the standard for surf wear, an approach that would hold Quiksilver in good stead in the decades ahead. Weve been successful, McKnight went on to explain, because our philosophy has always been to bring the image off the beach and into the stores. Since we were all surfers, we knew what kids wanted.

1980s Expansion

McKnights commitment to his business strategy successfully carried Quiksilver through its fledgling years, creating a firmly established company by the beginning of the 1980s. The 1980s witnessed a host of sweeping changes that reshaped Quiksilver as it maneuvered through its corporate adolescence, beginning in 1981 when Hakman exited the business, leaving on amicable terms with McKnight to return to Australia and surf. Four years later, a turning point in Quiksilvers history occurred when McKnight took Quiksilver to the next plateau of the retail apparel business and began distributing Quiksilver merchandise to department stores.

The foray into the retail mainstream began gradually and conservatively, manifesting two defining characteristics of Quicksilvers development during its first decade. The move into department stores marked the beginning of the companys evolution into a more sophisticated enterprise. As the 1980s progressed, Quiksilver became more than a business whose chief objective was to finance McKnights surfing and partying at the beach. A full-fledged corporation was in the making, propelling Quiksilvers growth forward at a substantially faster pace and engendering the attendant pitfalls of rapid growth.

Following McKnights decision to expand Quicksilver, the company celebrated the conclusion of its first decade of business by completing its initial public offering of stock in December 1986, when annual sales were up to $19 million and the stock market was receptive to small-sized companies like Quiksilver. McKnight and his minority partners sold 50 percent of the company to the public, raising $16 million to bolster Quiksilvers financial foundation as it developed its department store business. With the proceeds gained from the public offering, McKnight bought the Quiksilver trademark for the United States and Mexico, paid off all the companys short- and long-term debts, and expanded Quiksilvers line of production runs in preparation for greater department store business. From 1986 the company operated under the name Quiksilver, Inc.

Company Perspectives:

The Quiksilver logo, a cresting wave and snowcapped mountain, represents active sports and global excellence. Our heritage comes from the beach and the sport of surfing and extends out to include other lifestyles where the dictates for fashion and function come from active people with high standards. Since its birth over 20 years ago, Quiksilver has maintained its commitment to performance, style, and endurance and has taken the message around the world. The company credo is built upon our premier brand, Quiksilver. Quiksilver is a worldwide surf/board-riding lifestyle label based on authenticity and reputation for excellence. Our goal is to provide the market with purity of concept and provide our customers product they can wear with pride since it represents quality and value from a solid foundation. Quiksilvers substance lies in its history, its product quality and innovation and its authentic connection to the extreme sports culture. In addition to Quiksilver, Pirate Surf, Que, Roxy, and Raisins represents our complete dedication to the outdoor lifestyle. This dedication has made Quiksilver a world standard.

As Quiksilver intensified its involvement with department stores, eventually distributing its merchandise to retailers such as Macys, Marshall Fields, Dayton Hudson, and the Dillard Group, McKnight decided to a bring in someone with greater experience in dealing with department stores. In July of 1987, McKnight hired John C. Warner, who at the time was senior vice-president and general merchandising manager of Macys Department Stores Denver operation. Initially, Warner was hired as head of sales, but he quickly proved to be a tremendous asset and seven months after joining the company was named chairman and chief executive officer of Quiksilver.

With Warner occupying the two top managerial posts and McKnight serving as president, Quicksilver moved headlong into fostering the growth of its department store business. Sales in 1987 amounted to $30 million and shot up the following year to $48.3 million, while earnings rose to $3.7 million. Sales to department stores made up 40 percent of Quiksilvers $48.3 million in sales in 1988, and offered tangible evidence that the company had made commendable progress into the retail mainstream. The companys range of merchandise had expanded substantially as well, growing well beyond the original line of six styles of boardshorts. Once the sole source of revenue for the company, boardshorts by the late 1980s accounted for only 18 percent of total annual sales, while the balance was derived from a host of different apparel items. T-shirts accounted for 15 percent of total sales, shirts 11 percent, pants 12 percent, fleece wear 9 percent, walking shorts 27 percent, jackets 4 percent, and surfing accessories another 4 percent.

In addition to these products, the company was also moving beyond purely surfing-related merchandise, diversifying its business as the strength of the Quiksilver brand name increased. In 1988, the company introduced six skiwear designs, offering the same number of styles as it had 12 years earlier with boardshorts. The initial success of the skiwear line nearly matched the initial success of the boardshort line, selling out in five weeks and grossing $500,000.

The growing spectrum of Quiksilver products appeared in roughly 2,000 stores nationwide during the late 1980s, including in the original three surf shops that purchased the companys first line of boardshorts in 1976. Fueled by this vast distribution system, annual sales leaped from the $48 million registered in 1989 to more than $70 million in 1989. By this point, when sales to department stores accounted for nearly 50 percent of total sales, some industry observers predicted that the company would become too big and low-price retailers would begin selling their merchandise, a development that would erode profitability and potentially tarnish the appeal of the Quiksilver name to the hard-core surfing set. Aware of the problem, Warner confided to a California Business reporter in 1989, We have no illusions that our growth as Quiksilver in our existing businesses is limited somewhat down the road, but we want to continue growing and will do so by acquisition, start-up, or licensing.

1990s Diversification

As the company entered the 1990s, it continued to record robust sales gains. Sales in 1990 neared the $100 million mark, fueled by the continued success of the companys traditional line of surfing apparel, but the early years of the decade signalled a disruption in Quiksilvers rousing 1980s rise. Two trends emerged during the early 1990s, both of which negatively affected Quiksilver. First, a nationwide economic recession developed, sending many retailers reeling, particularly the large department stores that accounted for the bulk of Quiksilvers business. To combat the recession, department stores reduced the amount of square footage devoted to selling young mens apparel among other things, which caused Quiksilvers sales to dip. Exacerbating this development was the growing popularity of the grunge look during the early 1990s, a fashion style that embraced muted, earthy hues rather than the flashy, colorful styles that had predicated Quiksilvers popularity during the 1980s. As a result, Quiksilvers neon boardshorts were no longer the rage of the day, and the company began to suffer.

To beat back the effects of the recession and changing fashion tastes, Quiksilver diversified its apparel lines and refocused its efforts toward selling to specialty stores. In 1991, the company acquired Na Pali, S.A., the European licensee of the Quiksilver brand in Europe, and established a subsidiary headquartered in France to design and produce Quiksilver apparel for all countries in Western Europe. By the mid-1990s, Quiksilver was collecting more than 30 percent of its total annual revenues from its European operation, a definite contribution to the companys resurgence by the middle part of the decade. Help came from elsewhere as well, including the companys foray into producing snowboard clothing and its entrance into the market for womens sportswear. Womens sportswear became a key facet of Quiksilvers business following the companys November 1993 acquisition of The Raisin Company, Inc., a manufacturer of womens swimwear and sportswear. Aided by the addition of a strong European business, a return to the specialty and surf shops, and the expansion of its apparel lines, Quiksilver survived the recession and stood firmly positioned as a market leader by the mid-1990s.

During the mid-1990s, Quiksilver derived roughly 40 percent of total revenues from surf shops and nearly 45 percent from specialty shops. After building its department store business significantly during the latter half of the 1980s, the company had largely abandoned these retailers by the mid-1990s, deriving less than 15 percent of total sales from department stores. This shift back to the companys roots was perceived as a positive step by a number of industry analysts, as was the companys encouraging financial growth. Between 1992 and 1995, annual net income rose from $371,000 to more than $10 million, while sales leaped from $89 million to $172 million. As the company prepared for the late 1990s in the wake of this robust growth, expectations were high, fueling confidence that years ahead would strengthen Quiksilvers market position as a dominant force.

Principal Subsidiaries

Quiksilver Europe; The Raisin Company, Inc.; ATI Apparel Trade International; QS International, Inc.

Further Reading

Barron, Kelly, Quiksilver Surfwear Explains Its Third-Quarter, Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News, September 13, 1996, p. 9.

Buchalter, Gail, Fun, Fun, Fun, California Business, July 1989, p. 16.

, Do What You Wanna Do, Forbes, October 3, 1988, p. 82.

David, Gregory E., Quiksilver: Dont Catch this Wave, Financial World, January 17, 1995, p. 18.

Nelson, Alexandra, Sadeghi Exits Post at Quiksilver, Inc., Daily News Record, July 21, 1992, p. 2.

Quiksilver Earnings Up 10 Percent, Sales Jump 15 Percent in 2nd Quarter, Daily News Record, September 26, 1996, p. 5.

Slovak, Julianne, Quiksilver, Fortune, February 26, 1990, p. 90.

Jeffrey L. Covell

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Quiksilver, Inc.." International Directory of Company Histories. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Quiksilver, Inc.." International Directory of Company Histories. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/books/politics-and-business-magazines/quiksilver-inc-0

"Quiksilver, Inc.." International Directory of Company Histories. . Retrieved October 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/books/politics-and-business-magazines/quiksilver-inc-0