Employees of Channel Islands buy the company from Burton
Fourteen years after the world's biggest snowboard comapny bought the world's largest surfboard company, the sale has been reversed.
Overnight, Burton Snowboards agreed to terms for the sale of Channel Islands Surfboards brand to CI Surfboards LLC, which is led by shaper Britt Merrick and comprised of the Channel Islands management team, with employees and teamriders also sharing equity in the sale.
The exact details of the acquisition are unknown, however it can be chalked up as a good news story in light of the many surf companies who, since the turn of the century, were acquired by larger non-endemic companies and subsequently found themselves handballed between financial institutions, trading on heritage, with an ever-diminishing impact on surf culture.
Channel Islands, meanwhile, will remain in the hands of surfers.
Says Britt Merrick: “I literally grew up in my mum and dad’s surfboard factory, and was there to see how hard they and their whole family of employees worked to make Channel Islands one of the most highly regarded board builders in the world.”
“This opportunity to take over ownership with my lifelong friends that work here as well as having co-ownership with many of our top team riders is a dream come true for me—and has us all super pumped for what the future holds.”
Channel Islands was sold to Burton in 2006 with the promise of expanding its international influence and incorporation of new material and technologies into traditional board construction. Shortly afterwards the surf industry was pummelled by the GFC, however Burton/Channel Islands recovered to increase their North American distribution out of the Santa Barbara factory, and also establish manufacturing agreements around the world.
However, the promise of newer material and technologies was never realised with PU/PE remaining the mainstay of the Channel Islands fleet, and the much vaunted Spine Tek reinforcement a fibreglass-splint similar to that used by many board labels.
Burton, which last year earnt USD $400 million, was caught in the COVID firing line when the majority of North American snow resorts closed down earlier this year. As well as shedding costs, continuing political and economic uncertainty are also likely to have played a part in the decision.
The transaction from Burton Snowboards to CI Surfboards LLC is expected to be complete by early 2021.