On May 2, 2011, Volcom agreed to join the French luxury group PPR, owner of world-famous, iconic brands such as Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Bottega Veneta, and the lifestyle brand PUMA.
The appearance of the “Youth Against Establishment,” boards sports and apparel brand in a portfolio of brands targeted at more mature customers may seem surprising. However, it already promises a huge potential of synergies betwee PPR, PUMA, and Volcom, from footwear to fashion. And in many ways it bears similarities to Nike’s acquisition of Hurley in 2002.
But the most interesting piece of the acquisition is surely the youth content and what it should deliver in terms of influence and presence. Though Volcom's 2010 revenue was less than a tenth of PUMA's revenue, it outpaces PUMA's presence in other ways – for example, with approximately 1.3 million fans on Facebook, it has the lead on PUMA (with 4.7 million fans) by 27 percent.
Why? Because Volcom speaks to skateboarders, snowboarders, and surfers in a unique tone and voice. The brand mixes rock, trash, and punk content with extreme sports and board sports. For years, the brand has been admired for its consistency and its ability to embrace skate, surf, and snowboard under one brand – a very specific lifestyle that speaks directly to younger audiences.
While today, the Volcom brand doesn’t achieve the same level of business as PUMA, it seems clear that the owners are aiming to preserve its authenticity, protect and enhance its brand relevance, and also improve its operational efficiency. PPR’s acquisition definitely represents a turning point for the board sports industry – and for Volcom.