BoardsportSource Issue #119 Jan/Feb 2024

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On the cover: Ferdinand Christ, Mervin Rep. Photo: Jake Terry

I think we’re in for a bumper winter season…

In early January there is great sentiment in the air with brands and retailers alike. The UK is a particularly bright spot at the start of winter with many retailers reporting solid starts. Record breaking actually. There is a growing fear that the cost-of-living crisis that’s stung the UK for a number of months is finally catching up in Europe, with the dreaded 20% sale creeping in in December for many key European retailers. But this isn’t anything new and we’re all used to dealing with it by now.

Early season has seen solid snowfall in the Alps and events like DIYX and Rock A Rail are great November activations that give consumers stoke and introduce newbies to the culture and show just how fucking rad it is. Boarding a flight to the Alps with all the packable down twats feels busier this January than it has since pre-covid and speaking with travel companies, snow holiday bookings are up with many customers booking earlier and earlier to take advantage of cheaper pricing. It’s cool to see more snowboarding brands actively targeting kids. We’ve been saying for years that we need to make snowboarding cooler for the kids, and not just something that Mum & Dad do. There’s a big void between 8–35-year-olds who need to see how fun and cool snowboarding is, and without them, it’s just us old dudes buying snowboards. Despite Burton’s Riglet efforts, the kids snowboarding segment had always been more of an afterthought for brands. Thankfully they’re seeing the light and are jumping on board.

This issue’s Big Wig is David Pitschi. David grew up as a Swiss pro snowboarder and after working at Billabong and then Salomon Snowboards, David is now brand manager at YES Snowboards. Part of the Nidecker Group, YES has merged with brand-mates Now Bindings & Lobster Snowboards. The collective will take the name YES and we speak with David about the details of the merger.

Looking out at the rest of the boardsport market, 2023’s softness is expected to be repeated until late this year. Hardgoods markets such as kiteboards, SUP and wetsuits continue to see serious discounting as brands struggle with cashflow due to overstock. This means we’ll not see as much innovation in technology in 24/25 and carry-over – rather than being an exception – will in many cases become the norm. For softgoods the outlook is rosier with demand expected to be similar to 2023 as we all wait to see what business model will be adopted for the Boardriders brands under their new owners.

Always Slideways

Harry MT Editor

 

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