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Billabong International Limited is a clothing company for the most part, but they do have their hands in a variety of other areas as well, including creating a variety of accessories and skateboarding gear. They also make a number of products under other brand names. The company has been around for a number of decades now, and in that time, they've developed a very good reputation as being a company that creates quality goods and products for a specific audience.


The History of Billabong


The company was founded in 1973 along Australia's Gold Coast in Queensland. The founder was Gordon Merchant. The name comes from a strange place. It actually means a creek that runs only during the rainy season.


The first product Merchant created was a pair of board shorts. He created these at his home and would then sell the shorts to local surf shops. He was making high quality shorts, and this soon caught on with the local surfers. They liked how durable the shorts were and how they could stand up to quite a bit of abuse. One of the reasons that his shorts were so durable was the fact that he was using a special triple stitch technique.


Merchant wanted his company to grow, and he knew that in order for that to happen, they would need to have more publicity. One of the techniques he used to gain that publicity was to sponsor contests. This proved to be a very smart move. It meant that more people were getting to learn about his company and products, driving interest in what he was offering. Within about a decade, his shorts were popular throughout much of Australia.


Australia was not enough for Merchant though. He wanted his company to grow even larger, and to start exporting. He was soon selling products in New Zealand, Japan, and South Africa. They also expanded to the United States, where the surf culture really started.


Over the years, the company had started to make far more than just the board shorts for which they were so famous. They began making hats, shoes, shirts, and eventually even wetsuits and other gear. The company also started up a number of retail stores to sell their products. These were quite popular in many malls and shopping centers around the world. Some of the other companies they've bought include Kirra Surf, Dakine, Zipper, Element, and Sector 9. They continued to sell under these brands. In 2010, they announced that they would be entering into a licensing deal with Plan B, a very popular skateboard company.


Advertising With Athletes


One of the ways that Billabong has been able to stay in the public eye and to target their specific audience has been through the many different sponsorships they've entered into over the years. Some of the most popular athletes to have worked with the company over the years include Maya Gabeira, Frankie Harrer, Moana Joans, Rebecca Torr, Greg Long, Wade Goodall, Tyler Warren, Mike Dowdy, and Danny Harf.



Not Without Some Trouble


Even though the company has enjoyed an enormous amount of success over the years, they are not without their own trouble. They have had troubles with sales, and the company had been struggling between 2008 and 2012. In 2012, they announced that they would begin restructuring their company, and that it would include the closure of 150 stores. They also sold off Nixon watches and accessories at that time, and another company, a private equity funds group, bought them. When Billabong revealed their earnings reports, it was easy to see that they were having trouble and were on the edge of collapse. The purchase and the restructuring, even though it may have cost some jobs and some face, helped to ensure the company was able to survive.


A Legacy


Billabong is an important name in board sports, and that does not seem likely to change. Over the years, they've been one of the most popular and well respected brands in the field. Despite their financial woes, it is quite likely that they will be able to bounce back from the difficulties. They remain highly popular, and they are one of the best known brands in the business.




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