Nidecker Aquires 32, Etnies, Es and Emerica: Interview With The Nidecker Brothers

Following the announcement of the sale of ThirtyTwo, éS, Emerica, and Etnies to the Nidecker Group we sat down with the three brothers Henry, Cedric, and Xavier to get the low-down.

Four generations separate the three brothers from the first Nidecker who applied his wood craft to making skis. Always family-owned, the Swiss company has influenced the snowboarding industry with a curated portfolio of brands, the result of thoughtful partnerships with passionate and innovative figures from snowboarding. Their latest acquisition is driven by the same values. Four decades after the launch of Nidecker’s first snowboards and the launch of Etnies skateboarding shoes, the two iconic companies come together in a match made of pure love of boardsports.

What was the thinking behind this move?

Firstly, we are super proud to be part of these brands’ future and what Pierre-Andre has built. This was not a pre-planned move. If you had asked me 4 months ago if we were going into footwear I would have said never. But when the opportunity came along, with these brands which are such an important part of the boardsports culture, the chance to do something together was too good to miss. Diversifying outside winter sports? Yes, it makes sense, but this was not part of a strategic plan where we were looking for an acquisition like this.

I believe that companies need to evolve, or they fall behind, and that’s it. We cannot stand still or we will be passed by, so evolution has to be a constant process. Who knows what the market will look like in 3 years’ time? We have skate shoe competitors with billions of dollars of turnover and we have global warming, they are not going to stand still so neither will we. In the end, it’s all about the passion, it has never been a financial thing for us. It’s always long-term oriented around what we can do. You can see how we have nurtured all the brands we have and created a lot of growth during a challenging time.

So how did the deal come about?

We have known Pierre for a long time, we have a great friendship with him and a lot of admiration for his brands. There was nothing pre calculated when we started to speak with Pierre, it just became a natural discussion with him to see if we could do something together. We are skaters and it was passion and love for the brands that brough us all together. In the end, it was pretty quick but it involved a lot of discussion to get to understand the brands and their vision, and to become aligned on everything so that we can build the future together. It’s unusual to find a business that aligns so well with us. There are not a lot of companies like that out there now. We feel Pierre-Andre shares a very similar DNA to us, he’s long-term focused, exceptionally product driven, and runs a private business, just like us.

How will the operations be structured?

Pierre-Andre will be CEO of all four brands, but the Sole Technology structure will be wound down and the brands will be owned directly by the Nidecker Group. Separately, a company has been set up that will own the trademarks with both Pierre-Andre and the Nideckers as shareholders.  It’s an advantage to keep the soul and the vibe of the brand in the cultural center of skate, and there is a lot of amazing talent that we really want to keep. Our expertise is in operations and systems, so we want to give them the tools to build awesome stuff and to provide the finance so they can have the freedom to make the moves they think will work best..

What will ThirtyTwo bring to your brand portfolio?

There are no changes planned at ThirtyTwo. They have a great team and great guys behind the brand. They have a very good product, we really feel we don’t need to do anything different with ThirtyTwo today. I think for sure the strong point of ThirtyTwo is the US market, the athlete roster, and the penetration of the brand into the younger generation, focused on the new generation freestylers. So, this is what ThirtyTwo brings to the group today, filling a gap in our portfolio.  It’s also the team they have and to be part of all of this is a great honour. There are a ton of things that we can learn about on how they see things and how they build their brand. So, it’s very exciting for us. Although ThirtyTwo is a winter brand, it is run like a skateboard brand, with athletes first. This is also something we want to learn about as well; our brands are run more along a more traditional snowboarding brand approach. So, we can for sure learn from them, and them from us. A win-win situation.

And éS, Emerica, and Etnies?

We have a lot to learn from the skate shoe brands. On one side, they bring the benefit of a year-round cash flow and sales. On the other, we have to understand how a four season business model works. There’s no quiet period, like we are used to at our snowboard brands; instead, it’s full throttle all year round. But again, it’s a challenge we are looking forward to, it’s what makes business interesting. But we will need to see what makes sense. First, we need to gather information, as we only just met the team. We need to speak with them, see what they think, and hear their ideas on where the brands can go.

Is your moving into a new sector of board sports for you the beginning of a phase to expand the business further?

If our business could stay the same over the next hundred years I would be happy, but the issue is that we all live in a world that evolves, and we need to evolve as well just to stand still. So, when you have an opportunity to partner with the best brands, you need to take it. There could be other brands in the future, but they will need to be brands that we feel passionate about. For us, it’s more about if an opportunity presents itself and the synergy is right, then we will do it. This is more of a motivation than the strategic fit for us. If it’s just a strategic deal, often there’s so many other issues that arise after the deal, and you need long-term commitment to make it work. If you don’t have this passion, it will not work. For us, passion is why we do it. It’s because we want to be part of this great boardsports culture; that’s why we focus on these sports because it’s what we love. We are 100% family owned and have been for generations. We reinvest all the profits we make into the business; my brothers and I have never taken any capital out of the company. It is this long-term commitment which is so important to us. We invest in the long-term future to ensure the business is here for the next generation.

How has this winter been for the group?

This winter has been pretty difficult for everyone globally, but we have made strategic moves and big investments in new products, so each of our brands had something that allowed them to gain market share. For example our merger of #YES with Now & Lobster, adding a new board model like the Rally Cat to Jones, with Nidecker the Supermatic and with Bataleon, a move into the boots category.  Innovation has been the secret to our business development and that’s why for next year we will heavily invest again and launch many new products. We feel long-term commitment is a real competitive advantage. We have had difficult years before, but we are committed. If we have a decrease this year, it’s because we all had a huge increase two or three years ago. It’s up to us to bring exciting new stuff to the market to make it grow, and if we do that, we will have more people snowboarding.  PS We have a really cool product that we will launch in a few months, you will see.

So are you celebrating tonight ?

No, we will celebrate in three years. Now it’s just a start. We will of course celebrate to welcome a new team, but now it’s face down, looking for solutions which we love to do.




119 Sole Tech Skate Footwear


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