Sun City acquires Longboard
There's been a change of course at Longboard. The surf brand, founded in the early 2000s and developed by the Norprotex group, has been taken over by the French group, Sun City, which specializes in developing apparel and accessory licenses for fashion brands and mass retailers.
The transaction price was not disclosed by either of the two parties but was facilitated by Emmanuel Assouline, operations director of the Saint-Denis-based company. The marketing director, who has worked with Sun City for nearly three years, has been involved in developing the presence of the label's distribution networks for nearly 15 years.
"Emmanuel is a bit like a co-founder of the brand," said Pierre Sokolowski, CEO of Norprotex, who had already sold the rugby brand Ruckfield to former French international athlete, Sébastien Chabal, in 2019. "Longboard is a great story that we started from the Southwest of France to Hawaii and Australia. It has generated, on average, annual turnover of between 15 to 20 million euros, with a total of more than 15 million pieces sold and beautiful licenses in different product categories. Today, I retire, but knowing that the brand is in good hands.”
While the textile company pauses its marketing to return in the Spring/Summer of 2023, these licenses have not stopped and will continue to keep Longboard alive in the coming season. Oberthur will offer stationery, Sogema eyewear, Impex car interior products, and a few others could come soon.
"The brand had a strong presence in GSA (supermarkets) in France, but also in Spain and Portugal, primarily in the surfing apparel market, but there is a possibility of deploying the offer in the outdoor apparel market which is currently very buoyant, as we have seen with our Ushuaïa license, but as well as for the snow with softshell jackets and fleeces," explained Assouline. “We were able to take over the brand along with its history, its archives, its data. We see a potential to position the brand at the level it has been in the past, but also to expand it to new markets through our contacts in Asia and North America".
This comes as an interesting new asset for Michel Benchetrit and brothers Daniel and David Taïeb’s Sun City group, which will be able to apply the know-how of its design teams to the distribution of its own brand. The company, which reached 60 million euros in sales in 2020, says that it experienced a growth of 14% in 2021.
Norprotex becomes an investment player
The operational activity concluded last year for Sokolowski. “We have stopped activities related to distribution," explained the manager. “We have converted Norprotex into a holding company and are taking minority stakes in companies". The entrepreneur chose to back the Almé Paris company, developed by his daughter, but to also invest in his son's project, Atelier Garrigue, which focuses on knitwear. He also supports the Parisian label La Panoplie and has invested, as a former doctor, in a paramedical equipment company.
"I'm not ready to stop my activities," commented the director. “And we are currently looking at dossiers for other investments.”
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