Please provide an overview of how 2022/23 is shaping up for your brand.
On a business side, our 21/22 snb sales dipped 30% due to Covid but the 22/23 forecasts show a rebound of 130%, reaching out 90% of 20/21 level. We’re still depending on weather conditions but the holiday season in Europe is shaping up extremely well.
On a product side, we’re introducing Xavier De Le Rue’s new signature model, new Escaper Split directional twin series, new Soulside in the women’s all-mountain beginner to intermediate range, as well as new Evader in the men’s all-mountain beginner to intermediate section.
IIn details, Xavier De Le Rue’s new signature was developed to minimize fossil fuel use in accordance with Xavier’s will. The core combines lightweight Paulownia with self-regenerating-no-fertilizer Bamboo laminates and a thin layer of Ash which allow us to stay away from Carbon, Basalt and Kevlar fibers. We are using a 33% bio based Epoxy and recycled sidewalls taken from the factory’s scrap (that already contain 50% recycled ABS).
Available in 7 sizes, including a 56 to cover the lighter built demographic, the board is still coming with the pointy nose, the 80% camber, the 1cm pintail, the 8 to 9m+ sidecut radius, the tip and tail Roller and AmpTek Elite rocker/camber profile. But we’re swapping Serrated Edges with our proprietary automatic sidecut radius adjustment RadCut and shock absorbing system LITE GRIP to attack the biggest, boldest and most remote backcountry lines.
As part of the global Escaper offer that encompasses all product lines, the Escaper Split is the perfect all-mountain freestyle splitboard for beginner to advanced riders. Featuring FSC woodcores, twin tips for switch landing, a balanced flex that is slightly stiffer under the front foot for added control and softer under the rear foot for smoother turns, RadCut for playful turn variations and seamless edge-to-edge transitions, a 4.4k sintered base and our most versatile AmpTek All-Mountain 50% rocker-50% camber profile that supplies the right blend of power, pop and float to keep pace no matter where the snow takes you. Sizes run from 49 to 61 wide to cover all categories with only 1 model. Skins will be available separately. They are 100% Nylon and cut to the dimensions of the boards.
Last, but never the least, we are also bringing some fresh air in the all-mountain beginner to intermediate segment with two new boards that were designed with lineage and progression in mind.
The Soulside and Evader are, as a matter of fact, directional decks whose shapes and constructions are taken from their higher-end sister Airis and brother Resurgence but were toned down to take into consideration the needs of their intended population. Versatile, forgiving and fun, the women’s Soulside and men’s Evader are all-mountain rides for building skills and expanding everyone’s range. The right combination of rocker and soft flex makes for a maneuverable, catchfree ride that lets riders push into new terrain and explore the mountain in any snow conditions.
Everyone has been affected by impacts from Covid-19 in one way or another. Have you had to change manufacturing or sourcing processes and can you explain any good examples of how your business has pivoted effectively?
The short term responses to the impacts from Covid-19 – ie. cutting expenses, workforce and credit terms mgmt., government support, to name but a few – will do little to ensure a long-term survival. We, as a result, developed a three-season inventory and sales management plan that is continuously updated according to the circumstances. Meaning more carryovers, optimized stock distribution across countries, reduced buying targets, minimized end-of-season discounts, pre-introducing more products and rationalized production (ie. managing raw material and scrap inventories to optimize stock monetization and profitability). We haven’t been able to relocate some of our production due to MOQs and increased budget consciousness but the factories we work with are as conscious as we are of the need to be flexible, from capacity to country of origin.
Carry-over was a hot topic for 21/22 boards. Where did your brand sit on the matter and has this changed for 22/23?
We carried over 30% of our 20/21 snowboards to 21/22. And are carrying over 20%, which is slightly over our standard carryover year, of our 21/22 boards over to 22/23 due to the inventory situation.
The bricks and mortar model is changing rapidly. How are you working with retailers and your ecommerce channel to ensure as little conflict as possible?
Whether B2B, B2C/e-tailing, D2C, C2C or social commerce, a large proportion of the accounts we work with are offering physical and digital sales. We value the financial benefits of everywhere computing as much as we do with the ability of a snowboard experience, ie. riding or shopping in a physical store, to unplug. And adjust our business strategy, terms and conditions accordingly. Prioritizing flexibility with brick and mortar stores while making sure our products are available online and the digital customer experience is up the stakes.
What’s your company doing to improve its carbon footprint/eco consciousness?
This is snb specific. Outside of the fact that carrying over 20% of our boards is already improving our carbon footprint, we’re sourcing FSC wood laminates on 97% of our boards, introducing 33% bio based epoxy in our XV line and take more sidewalls from the factory’s scrap every year. 75% of our boards’ artworks are either DDP, sublimated or diecut, allowing us to get rid of silk screens as well as aluminum frames, UV exposure and minimizing water consumption. 40% of our edges are made with recycled steel. All our white floods and sublimation inks are 100% water based. We are currently testing a new sintered running base that is made with 85% of recycled materials. The energy to produce 40% of our boards comes for solar powered panels.
Are you using any new materials in your hardware for 22/23? If so, what, and why? We’re interested in anything new in inserts / edges / cores / sidewalls / glue / resin/ wood types / base material etc here.
See previous point: carbon footprint and eco-consciousness is the drive when it comes to raw materials.
What about shapes? Anything new for 22/23? Does anything remain unexplored, or are there still advances to be made in shaping specifically?
A lot has been done, if not thought, since 1977 (1987 at Rossi) but retro shapes are always great fun to bring back with cutting-edge technologies. Which is what the new XV is all about.
What new items do you have that are specifically aimed at entry level? Has this increased/decreased due to COVID-19? Please also mention anything new that’ll be aimed at the youth market.
We are bringing some fresh air in the all-mountain beginner to intermediate segment with two new boards that were designed with lineage and progression in mind. The Soulside and Evader are, as a matter of fact, directional decks whose shapes and constructions are taken from their higher-end sister Airis and brother Resurgence but were toned down to take into consideration the needs of their intended population. Versatile, forgiving and fun, the women’s Soulside and men’s Evader are all-mountain rides for building skills and expanding everyone’s range. The right combination of rocker and soft flex makes for a maneuverable, catchfree ride that lets riders push into new terrain and explore the mountain in any snow conditions.
When it comes to the youth market, we have a variety of true twin models that go from size 80cm to 150cm and whose shapes and constructions vary according to the target.But we wanted to extend to the splitboard community therefore are now bringing the Escaper Split in a size 149 for the younger, lighter built riders.
Prices: Which area of the market do you primarily cater to, price-wise? Have you revisited this after the uncertainty of this past winter?
Our biggest demand is that 450 to 550 euros MSRP price range where we offer AmpTek rocker, Serrated edges, RadCut, L.I.T.E. Tech, sintered bases, Basalt/Carbon, Aramid/Kevlar, hi-gloss, artists collabs and superior ride-ability.
Consumers look for technology that services performance at that price and its common knowledge that we, as a bigger company, are extremely competitive when it comes to price/quality and ride-ability ratio. We make products that ride well and last long before anything.
With that being said, the 550+ euros MSRP price category only represents 20% of the market, which explains why we’re offering a series of products with AmpTek rocker, Serrated edges, RadCut and L.I.T.E. Tech in the 380 to 450 euros MSRP price range. To reply to your last point, the 450 to 550 euros MSRP price range is the perfect balance between costing and margin for us. No changes were needed here, so far.
Please tell us about the dominant visual themes in your 22/23 gear, including any interesting artist collabs you have lined up.
Our FW2223 colors are split into ‘real’ tones, feelgood combinations, grounded neutrals and pastels. We are also proud to work with Salt Lake City graphic artist Andy Earl (https://andyearlcreative.bigcartel.com/; https://www.instagram.com/wasatchandy/) on the XV split, Sashimi split and Sushi split series.
Park? Freeride? All-mountain? where will your primary focus be in 22/23, and how much has that changed since 21/22?
Our FW22/23 top stories will be the new XV, Escaper Split and After Hours series. Those are freeride boards. But we’ll also have Marion promoting the new Diva, and the One that she loves for Backcountry freestyle, while the rest of the crew will be supporting the One and Revenant, that are directional with a freestyle attitude.
Best Sellers/Hero products
XV – Xavier De Le Rue’s award-winning XV is back with the same super directional shape, large, stiff nose and narrower tapered tail for effortless float and maneuverability. But now comes with GreenLight woodcore, RadCut and L.I.T.E. Grip to ensure incomparable edge control for the precision and confidence to plant your front foot and pin it over anything in your path.
Escaper Split – The Escaper Split is the perfect all-mountain freestyle splitboard for beginner to advanced riders. Featuring twin tips for switch landing, a slightly reversed flex for front foot control, RadCut for playful turn variations, a 4.4k sintered base and our most versatile AmpTek All-Mountain 50% rocker-50% camber profile for power, pop and float. Sizes run from 49 to 61 wide.
After Hours – Developed with four-time Freeride World Tour champion Marion Haerty, the After Hours snowboard is designed for the hardworking all-mountain woman. Depending how you ride it, ie. fully centered or leaning on your back leg, it delivers a playful twin-like feel in the powder and stands up to full-send mode, carving packed snow and traversing hard conditions with confidence.