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Kathmandu taps Rip Curl boss for the group’s top post

The New Zealand-based holding company on Tuesday named Michael Daly, who had led the Kathmandu-owned brand Rip Curl for the last eight years, as group CEO and managing director.


Kathmandu Holdings Ltd. continues to reap the benefits of its 2019 acquisition of Australian surf brand Rip Curl.

Not only has Rip Curl proven to be a banner asset for Kathmandu’s portfolio, contributing record sales growth in the first half of the current fiscal year, but it’s also providing the parent company its next group CEO and managing director.

The New Zealand-based holding company on Tuesday announced that Michael Daly, who served as CEO of Rip Curl for the last eight years, will replace Xavier Simonet as Kathmandu’s top executive.

“After an extensive international search, I am delighted to announce that Michael Daly will be the new group CEO of Kathmandu Holdings,” said David Kirk, chairman of Kathmandu Holdings. “Michael has led Rip Curl for eight years with a relentless focus on brand, product, people, and the bottom line, and we are confident he will bring the same focus and energy to the wider group.”

In addition to Rip Curl, Kathmandu Holdings owns and operates its eponymous retail brand as well as Bozeman, Mont.-based footwear brand Oboz.

Read more: Amy Beck is forging a new path for Oboz after Covid’s disruption

“This is an exciting next step for me,” Daly said. “The group has a portfolio of outstanding brands in Kathmandu, Rip Curl, and Oboz, and I am looking forward to leading three great teams as we work together to grow and develop the group.”

The company said Daly will assume the group CEO and managing director post immediately and that a search for a new Rip Curl CEO is underway.

Kathmandu acquired Rip Curl in 2019 for $236 million. In the company’s most recent earnings report, released in March, it noted that Rip Curl “achieved strong sales and profits, despite COVID-19 impacts in key global markets, validating the group’s diversification strategy.”

Like many brands, Rip Curl has been riding a wave of momentum as more people sought outdoor activities during the pandemic.

“Benefiting from increased participation in surfing in Australia, Europe, and the USA, Rip Curl achieved strong sales and profits despite COVID-19 trading restrictions, reflecting the brand’s technical product focus and strong consumer engagement,” Simonet said in March. “Pleasingly, Rip Curl’s wholesale order book is back above pre-COVID-19 levels.”

Rip Curl contributed NZD 48.7 million (US$35.3 million) to the group’s underlying EBITDA in the first half of FY2021. Its gross margins improved 40 basis points (0.4 percent) due to a stronger direct-to-consumer (DTC) mix.