Tuesday, September 9, 2008


As reported on shop-eat-surf.com

I had a very informative meeting with Hurley’s Mark Weber and Chance King at ASR. Mark is the VP of men’s merchandising and Chance runs Hurley’s men’s division.

I also had lucky timing. When I was talking to Mark and Chance, Nike CEO Mark Parker stopped by the Hurley booth. Parker told me he was there to check out Nike’s growing suite of brands at the show, which included Converse Skateboarding, Nike SB and Nike 6.0. He also said the company is “proud” of Hurley’s performance.

Hurley has come on strong in the past 18 months or so, after losing its way for a few years. Bob Hurley has said in the past the company is now relentlessly focused on its consumers after being distracted trying to keep up with its rapid growth after Hurley launched.

Mark and Chance elaborated on that a bit during our conversation at ASR.

Hurley turnaround: Mark said the company’s DNA is based in Huntington Beach and is a little more “blue collar” than other brands. Now, Hurley tries to focus on itself instead of paying attention to other brands. “It takes discipline,” Mark said. “It’s easy to get caught up chasing. It’s kind of freeing.”

In addition to differentiating itself with product, Hurley is also trying to provide better customer service and be a good partner to retailers, Mark said. In some cases, that may mean working with a retailer on margins or simply listening better to their needs.

The new strategy appears to be working. “Despite retailers having a hard time, our business is up,” Mark said.

The past 18 months has been especially strong for Hurley in the core market.

One reason, of course, is the Phantom boardshort.

Phantom: Hurley has created an entire Phantom series for spring. The Phantom is the quick-drying, super stretchy and expensive boardshort that has been a huge hit in the core market. The Phantom won the SIMA boardshort of the year award this year.

For spring, Hurley has expanded the price point range in both directions, and now it will be from $55 to $100. There are also more colors and prints available - a total of 11 styles vs. one or two before.

Mark said there are now two different fabrications. One with 120 percent stretch, the other at 60 percent. He said the industry standard is in the single digits.

Hurley has also patented the Phantom technology.

E-commerce: Hurley launched its new e-commerce site Aug. 27, Chance said. Previously, the company sold some of its special pieces online, such as a prom jacket made in conjunction with the band My Chemical Romance.

Hurley will continue selling those special collaboration pieces on the site, but has also added a good mix of its brand assortment as well, Chance said.

Mark said the company tried to be inclusive of its retail customers by including easy to find online retail affiliate listings and a store locator one site.

Hurley also has a collaboration with Warner Bros. music where both companies have a presence on each other’s sites.

International: I asked Chance for an update on the Hurley brand internationally. He said the international business is growing and will become even more of a focus in the future. Currently, Hurley is going to continue to invest in growing the Hurley brand in the core market during the next 18 to 24 months. After that, the company invest in growing the Hurley brand globally.

Retail: In December, the company opened a joint-venture Hurley store in Lahaina on Maui. Hurley partnered with Kim Ball of Hi-Tech on the store, which carries Hurley products and other brands as well.

Chance said opening stores with partners in cultural centers in the world is on Hurley’s radar. However, the company does not want to get caught up in the retail whirlwind of “me too,” he said. The company wants to be mindful of its retail customers and would like to work in conjunction with them or have stores that compliment existing core stores.

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