Following the news regarding Tiki, longstanding, UK-based brand, being acquired by Two Seasons, SOURCE caught up with Two Seasons owner, Stuart Roberts to get the inside scoop on how business will proceed and what the acquisition means for all involved.
Please can you tell us about the Two Seasons business.
Since we bought back the IP and stock from Boardriders Int. in August of 2020, we have expanded from our online-only base to open 6 Two Seasons stores in key university cities that were all previously part of Boardriders UK, with 5 previous Two Seasons Stores and in Plymouth, we’ve taken over what previously was a Billabong store. We had a very positive social media response from old customers wanting us back and it was great giving unemployed, incredible retailers a job back when the market was impossible with no hiring.
Navigating lockdowns and restrictions has been complicated, but landlords have a new reality on flexible rents, and this has enabled us to continue to invest in a bricks infrastructure that supports the brand with fully integrated multi-channel approach.
Why did you decide to add the Tiki brand to your portfolio?
We have been talking to the owners for some time and were drawn to the unique heritage, brand awareness in SW England, quality of product and the opportunity to work with an extensive line up of products that includes distribution of the Torq brand. The current market trends on surf hardware and wetsuits, together with the upside opportunity of modernising the digital sales and wholesale funnel excited us, and with our knowledge of distribution and retail customer experience we felt we could build on this historic and iconic brand.
Could we have a history of Tiki since its launch in 1963.
Tim Heyland was surfing big waves in Hawaii and shaping boards so when he came back to the UK it was a natural thing to open the UK’s first dedicated surf store in 1963. What followed was an amazing historic reflection of the UK surfing industry; from supplying newly formed surf schools and retailers in the SW to owning a factory and manufacturing Tiki wetsuits in Devon (30 machinists with their old sowing machines still on site today), to offshoring to China and Taiwan with the highs of 90s cool and lows of recessions. The Tiki brand and the iconic store has withstood all tribulations which is a huge credit to Tim and David and the people who worked for them through the years. We want to celebrate this achievement of the British Surfing Industry and the beautiful and rugged North Devon Coastline.
How will Tiki be managed going forward?
We have set up a separate holding co., BRW Holdings, to keep the Tiki business separate from the rest of the group operationally whilst still having access to support resources and investment funding. The Tiki franchise of products will be widened and as an entry point for many beginners and intermediates we want to extend our surf school reach, beyond the 100’s of surf schools and Adventure groups that we already service. We will also expand the retail offer, which already includes a wide range of boards, sub-categories, specialist wetsuits, iSUPS, accessories, fins, dry bags and towelling gowns; each of these will be extended. The distribution of Torq surfboards will remain in specialist stores but as increased production capacity is limited, we will look to tighten the number of accounts based on preseason commitment and quality of dealer. Torq will not be in Two Seasons stores.
How will Two Seasons add value to the Tiki brand?
We are looking at all aspects. The iconic Tiki Store in Braunton will be refitted to better reflect the excellent customer service on offer with greater digital interaction and better storytelling to enhance the customer experience. A complete overhaul of technology and stock control process including a new B2B website and a new Tiki store website, with Click and Collect and ship from store functionality. Faster early factory order process and tracking will enable wholesale customers to interact and track orders. Tiki has a large ‘at once’ market during the summer months as retailers and surf schools react to shortages so a more efficient stock system will be an enabler for increased service levels to all our customers. We are also considering a textile range for Summer ‘22.
How will the end consumer notice the change?
The store will still feature over 300 boards and 500 wetsuits across multiple brands, but we aim to open up the space and create excitement as one of the largest surf stores in the UK, with unique mix of products and information on everything surf. Wholesale and distribution will grow as we invest in production. The current supply issues in the industry have created a lot of uncertainty and EU based brands are still charging Duty or cannot hold stock, whilst Tiki uses a direct from Factory to UK approach, so has a robust supply chain which we intend to leverage to offer high service levels. Tim Heyland remains on the Tiki team as Product Creator and Ambassador whilst marketing will have an upgrade and the continued sponsorship of Cotty the UKs best big wave surfer will be extended and amplified.
How does Two Seasons see the boardsports industry evolving over the next few years?
With global warming, environmental concerns and potentially less travel, the snowboard business is an at-risk area, but on the flip side of the pandemic, surf and skate in UK is attracting a lot of new participants across a wider spectrum of the population and this is really healthy for the future. These new participants are buying hardware and visiting stores for advice, for example we are running skate lessons and how-to sessions from some of our stores. Fashion trends are also coming back into a retro surf look which students and hipsters are picking up. Outdoor/adventure surf is also attracting a lot of attention whilst skate culture continues to influence streetwear so Two Seasons and Tiki will continue to work with our key partners whilst looking for new and up-and-coming brands.