The question now is whether Volcom can keep the upstart cachet embodied in its “youth against establishment” tagline.
That remains to be seen, according to Kummetz.
“People were asking that question when they went public,” he said. “They asked that question when they started selling to” big retailers such as Anaheim-based Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. and Cincinnati-based Macy’s Inc.
Volcom’s growth hasn’t hurt the brand so far, according to Kummetz.
PPR’s initial strategy is expected to be a hands-off approach focused on international growth for Volcom.
Volcom is set to continue handling its own manufacturing, sales, design and other operations.
“When a new brand is welcomed in our group, we keep its DNA. We keep its autonomy,” PPR Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officer Jean-François Palus said during last week’s conference call.
Volcom long has been considered a startup success story in an industry filled with hopefuls and casualties.
It started in the bedrooms of Woolcott and cofounder Tucker Hall in 1991. Volcom went public in 2005, making it the last among the county’s crop of action sports brands to do so.
Industry players give Volcom marks for maintaining authenticity, which is critical to remaining cool among fickle teen shoppers.
“The way you stay relevant is being true to who you are,” said Johnny Schillereff, founder and president of Irvine-based skateboard and apparel company Element during a panel at the International Association of Skateboard Companies’ annual conference a week before the sale to PPR was announced. “Volcom’s actually proved that quite well. If you wait, good things can happen.”
Element, part of Irvine-based Billabong USA, sells skateboards and skateboarding-inspired shoes and clothes.
Staying relevant among skaters, surfers and snowboarders—dubbed “the core” in the industry—is a challenge all companies face as they grow.
“The trick when you get to a company of our level is to keep up the cool factor,” Volcom Executive Vice President of Sales Tom Ruiz said during the same industry panel. “How do you stay relevant? I think that’s the trick we all have to understand. It’s a balancing act but at the end of the day, you have to be relevant at the core.”