Decker’s Quarter: What’s Up with Sanuk?

I think the last analysis I wrote on Deckers may have had the same title. Which is okay because though Deckers also owns UGG, Teva and other brands, we’re mostly interested in Sanuk which spring from the surf industry and was acquired by Deckers. I’ll give you a brief overview of Decker’s March 31 results, and then tell you what we know about Sanuk. 

Decker’s sales rose 7.1% to $264 million from $246 million in the same quarter last year. The gross profit margin was up slightly from 46% to 46.8%. But selling, general and administrative expenses went up 19% from $101 million to $121 million. As a result, operating income fell 78% from $11.9 million to $2.6 million and net income was down 87.5% from $8 million to $1 million. Below is a chart from the 10Q that breaks down Decker’s sales and income from operations by brand and channel including Sanuk. Ecommerce and retail includes the sale of the brands sold through those channels.
The first thing you might notice is that Sanuk’s wholesale revenue was down 7% to $30 million. On a different chart I’m not going to reproduce here we find that Sanuk sold, in addition, $918,000 in the ecommerce channel, up from $107,000 in last year’s quarter. Retail sales of Sanuk were $17,000. Total Sanuk sales, then, were $30.95 million.
CEO Angel Martinez tells us that domestic sales of Sanuk were up “double digits” versus last year’s quarter. The wholesale business was up “mid-single-digits.” The overall revenue decline was mostly due to Asia. “I believe,” he says, “much of the decrease can be attributed to the normal growing pains many young brands experience, as they make the transition from niche player into a larger market participant. Until now, the Sanuk brand relied solely on distributors to launch and grow the business in the international markets, namely Asia-Pacific. And with the formation of the Sanuk management team and Deckers’ subsidiaries in Japan, we now have the infrastructure to take a more direct involvement in the Sanuk brand’s operation throughout the region.”  
In the wholesale channel, Sanuk’s $30 million in revenue produced $9.4 million in operating income. That’s a 31% operating margin. UGG’s operating margin was 17% and Teva’s 19%.
Deckers paid a high price for Sanuk. They are still paying it. In 2013, 36% of Sanuk’s gross profit will be paid to the former owners. In 2015 it’s 40% of gross profit. No payment in 2014.   Partly, they paid for that operating margin. But partly they paid due to expected growth. In the conference call, CEO Martinez tells us they’ve opened the first Sanuk brand store in Santa Monica. He continues:
“The store is in the heart of Southern California, home to the surf culture, from which the Sanuk brand was born, and one of the busiest tourist destinations in the country.”
“It’s the meeting of these 2 worlds that serves as the basis for our strategy with the Sanuk brand. First and foremost, we must continue to connect with our core consumer who influences much of the U.S. market and other markets inspired by surf culture. At the same time, we need to expand the brand’s conversion beyond the beach and evolve the product line to reach new audiences, while still retaining and maximizing our current audience.”
So they are going to connect the core market and the tourist market? Is that the new audience he wants to reach? While “maximizing our current audience?” Shit oh dear. I don’t want to read too much into a single paragraph, but it does leave me wondering if they understand what they’ve bought and know how to maximize its value. Interestingly, there’s very little discussion of Sanuk in the question and answer part of the conference call. I would have thought the analysts would be all over how Deckers could get some more of that 31% operating margin.
Mr. Martinez is not on my distribution list. If he were, I would direct him to some of my comments in the last two days on Skullcandy and VF, to my presentation at the IASC Skate Conference, and to some of my earlier articles. The Sanuk brand can certainly expand, but it has to be to some part of the youth culture market- not the tourist market.
To say again what regular readers must be really tired of hearing, the further a core based brand gets from the core market, the less identification there is with the brand and the bigger the danger of losing that core market without getting the broader market. Consumers in the broader market may know your brand, but they won’t know its story, and there goes your point of differentiation.
In the 10Q they say, “We believe that the Sanuk brand provides substantial growth opportunities within the action sports market, as well as other domestic and global markets and channels in which Deckers is already established.” I’d be interested in knowing which markets and channels they are referring to though I don’t expect to read that in public documents.
We also learn that, “Wholesale net sales of our Sanuk brand decreased primarily due to a decrease in the average selling price, as well as a decrease in the volume of pairs sold. The decrease in average selling price was primarily due to a shift in product mix, as well as an increase in the amount of discounts given as the brand moves from an at once to more of a prebook business.” Each of the price and volume declines cost about $1 million in revenue.
Sanuk inventory increased from $12.1 million to $15.1 million, or by 25%. Kind of seems like a big increase when sales are declining, though some of that may be due to the transition of the Sanuk business in Asia. For the year, they are projecting that Sanuk revenues will grow 10% to 13%, down from prior guidance of 15%.
Sanuk is a great brand. I try to be cautious in reading too much into the comments in the 10Q and conference call because you don’t get the whole story there. Yet some of the comments, as you will have noticed, leave me a bit concerned. I will look forward to better news in future quarters.



4 replies
  1. Geoff Fisher
    Geoff Fisher says:

    No kidding Jeff – do they (Decker) really know what they are doing with this particular brand? Do they know what they bought. Is there enough continuity and succession in place to insure the survival of the acquisition and climb from there. This is actually an oustanding subculture brand within core surf which makes it even more difficult. I am already seeing it get diluted in channels like the Military Exchanges. While the Military Exchange System is a fabulous channel – even an “advantaged” channel in this economy (I know. I own it for surf/sup hardlines and accessories) was it a downmarket move for Sanuk?

    • jeff
      jeff says:

      Hi Geoff,
      I’m really afraid they don’t know. Some of their comments were just scary. What I understand is that they’ve mostly gotten rid of the managers who did understand the brand. Well, it’s not like this is unusual but I hate to see it happen.

      Thanks for the comment.

    • jeff
      jeff says:

      Simple, obvious, straight forward, effective, risk lowering and by the way you probably don’t have a choice. Why is this so hard?


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