Interviewee: Andy Wirtz – CEO / SUP and Product Designer
Is the market expanding at the same pace than the previous years? (two-figure growth?) Do you expect sales to hit the glass ceiling sooner or later? Which areas/countries register the strongest growths?
I believe in Europe, Germany and France are the strongest markets. 2 figure growths are still possible but the glass ceiling is really close. 2019 will look a lot different for sure.
Are hardboards catching up inflatables? (what’s the hardboards/inflatables sales ratio?)Can you briefly sum up the distinct trends for SUP surfing, race, touring, leisure/beginners. Please tell us about your new technologies or product breakthroughs for 2018?
The numbers in Hardboards are increasing strongly but are still miles away from the inflatables. I believe Racing, Touring and leisure will be the strongest market, SUP surfing will becoming even smaller then it is already.
We are trying to find the best compromise between price, durability, and great looks. A lot of people still by a SUP as an alternative to other toys they need, so they are not willing to pay that much.
For the Surf advanced SUPs, we are moving away from carbon composite back to normal surfboard construction (SGT-Surf Glass Technology). They are cheaper, look better (like a surfboard) and have a better performance due to their flex characteristics.
For Touring and recreational Boards, we stick to our wood sandwich construction. Good money for value. The weight, durability, look to the price they cost is still the best.
How do make sure the boards displayed in the catalogues are available in shops? (this being an issue as some brands’ ranges are incredibly luxuriant as far as models are concerned, only a handful are actually available). What do you offer to shop owners so they can still have an edge on the sales pitch (compared to the online info)?
We keep our board range really tight and don’t change the range every year. Most boards are available throughout the season and leftovers in the shop don’t lose their value because of the next range coming. Change what’s necessary; keep what proved to be good. All boards are available in one construction only. Surf Pro in Surf Glass Technology for better performance, Intermediate Surf and Leisure in a wood sandwich, better value for money and Race only in fully carbon composite for lightweight. Having each Board in 3 constructions is neither necessary nor functional.
So all this helps the retailer to have a piece of our range available in their shop and a stock program that is realistic to be available.
How have prices evolved for the hardboard/inflatable categories and what are the main price hot spots?
Beginner and Schooling Boards should be below 1000 € retail to keep the sport accessible.
Surf Sups, Intermediate and Touring Boards should be in the 1200- 1600 € Range
Race is open to the performance but we think 2500 € is a good price.
Take us through your two key products for 2018.
As mentioned above:
SGT – Surf Glass Technology is used for our high-performance Surf SUPs. This basically is a stringerless high-density EPS core, supported by carbon bands on the bottom, wrapped in fibreglass and technora vector carbon net with bamboo patches in the standing area. You can really feel how the boards flex when you pump the board to accelerate, they feel really alive. Next, to that they are well priced with 1299 €. Good SUP surfers like to change their boards more often, the resell value of small surf sups is very little, so a better-priced product that also performs better is the key.
Wood Sandwich Construction – This is the most common construction available. Light EPS core with full bamboo wrap and additional PVC in the standing are, sprayed with colour from the outside is still the key product for a mid-range price board that offers great looks through the graphics and spray options. We have a paint finish that for sure does not chip away when the board gets hit by the paddle.
Softtop – Construction: A full beginner needs a board below 1000 € mark, that is durable, still lightweight and offer fun for the whole family. Also, all the SUP schools need that. Our Softtops have a hard bottom for better performance (compared to silk bottoms), a full EVA deck, a full rubber rail which never breaks from being hit by the paddle, nose and tailblocks implemented in the shape and windsurfing sail option for some extra fun. And they cost only 850 – 999 € retail. We have programs for schools and rental places to offer great packages for these boards for their businesses.