For issue 96, we debut our first ever Portuguese Market Insight, where we look at a surf market that’s booming; having a direct impact on tourism and therefore the economy of this wave rich nation.
Portugal’s economy has been a European trend topic for a few years now. From the dark period of strong recession, structural economic reforms and massive international loans, to a much brighter context. One of steady economic growth and major uplifts in its market dynamics in areas such as exports, its start-up and innovation ecosystem, real estate and especially tourism. The heat of the downturn surely ignited Portuguese creativity and entrepreneurship and it’s safe to say that this collective mindset is here to stay. By Patrick and Salvador Stilwell
The incredible part is that surfing has been instrumental in this shift. Its growth has been supercharged and evolved into a whole different level. The rise of national surfers, surf events and surf spots has been extraordinary. Thus, hand in hand with a changing country we have felt an unprecedented change in the way Portugal acknowledges our industry, sport and culture. Moreover, Portugal as a leading international surfing destination is enjoying record influx and media attention.
As a result, businesses have blossomed, jobs have been created, and the direct impact of surfing in the national economy is now thought to largely surpass the €400 million barrier per year. We caught up with some of the industry’s key players to understand how the development of the sport, economy and tourism has impacted their businesses and what’s hot right now at a retail level.
For José Gregório, Country Manager at Boardriders Portugal, it’s more than evident the impact of tourism has on sales, “there is a big difference on what stores can sell if located in a more touristy place in comparison to stores where the majority of customers are local”. José is also confident about the company’s strategy to increase the number of stores across the country: “We are working to open more Boardriders flagship stores with a minimum of 500 square meters. The idea is to have five of these stores in the near future”.
Pedro Soeiro Dias, Marketing Manager for Despomar and owns amongst other successful ventures, the retail chain Ericeira Surf & Skate, adds that in some locations “tourists present a big portion of the average customer in store and naturally, sometimes our approach to the business and communication tends to be adapted to this type of customer.”
Although numbers have been generally good, Nuno Amado, CEO for Surf Cloud, distributors of Firewire/Slater Designs, Ocean & Earth and Sticky Bumps amongst others, believes that this year might not be as strong: “2018 was pretty good. We grew 4% compared to 2017. We don’t expect any growth in 2019 due to the slowdown of tourism”. Actually, a potential slump in tourism may not be the only challenge lying ahead. “E-commerce business is the major threat to traditional retail shops. We need to be in sync with the latest products and trends to maximize sales”.
For Deeply, one of the country’s fastest growing brands, the sweet influx of foreigners is reflecting in their sales “especially wetsuits,” claims Ricardo Aragão, Head of Marketing. Actually, wetsuits have been a big standout for the Portuguese company with their new range, including the already best-seller “Premium” line. Naturally Ricardo is excited for the summer, “we have high expectations. We have just launched the spring/summer ‘19 collection and will soon launch a summer wetsuit range with new materials, cuts and colours.”
A final note to the products that are doing well recently at surf shops across the country. For the Ericeira Surf & Skate stores, Pedro Soeiro Dias explains that international surfboard models are highly sought by consumers with a special mention to JS Industries boards. Down south, in the Algarve, Surfers Lab shop manager Miguel Dias claims that lately it’s all about the Firewire Seaside model, “sold out in one week in our shop”.