Rip Curl Retools Its Senior Management Team

The Chairman of the Rip Curl Group, James Strong, today announced the Group had implemented a series of changes in senior management and Board arrangements, as foreshadowed last year.

On February 1 2003, the two Australian founders of Rip Curl — Brian Singer and Doug “Claw” Warbrick — moved to non-executive roles, and as Founder Directors, will remain very active in providing consultancy advice and industry representation to Rip Curl for at least the next five years.

Further, after six months as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Rip Curl’s Australian operations, David Lawn becomes Group CEO, succeeding Brian Singer.

James Strong said these changes all occurred smoothly as part of detailed plans to take Rip Curl into its next phase of development. He paid tribute to the achievements of Brian Singer and Doug Warbrick, who created the company more than 30 years ago, and built it into a truly international brand with operations around the globe.

[IMAGE 1]James Strong also indicated that similar changes will occur in Europe later this year, when co-founder Francois Payot will move to a Founder Director role on the parent Board, with continuing involvement on a non-executive basis.

There has been no change in the ownership structure of the Group, with the founders remaining as controlling shareholders.

Brian Singer said he and Doug Warbrick are very pleased with the smooth transition and looking forward to being able to participate more in industry events and activities as ambassadors of the Rip Curl Group.

Brian said: “We intend to stay closely involved as Board members and as advisers. This gives Claw and I the chance to spend more time with retailers, with our team members at competitions, and gHeenerally staying in touch with the surf and snow industries around the world representing Rip Curl.

New Group CEO David Lawn also announced the following appointments:

James Olsson has accepted the role of CEO of Rip Curl USA. A keen surfer, James, previously a senior executive of Gap Incorporated, and most recently Vice President of Global Merchandising for Coach, starts at Rip Curl USA in April.

Rip Curl USA’s present CEO, Leigh Tonai, has confirmed his wish to return to his home state of Hawai’i. Leigh will remain with Rip Curl, taking responsibility for building up Rip Curl’s presence in Hawai’i, as well as several major projects for the Board involving new property and business ventures.


Tonai says he’s looking forward to heading back to Hawai’i, where he’ll help open a new Rip Curl warehouse and office, and heighten the brand’s presence in the local community. “It’s a pretty big project, and that will take about a year,” he says. Tonai says the transition will occur at the end of Rip Curl’s fiscal year on June 30.

Rod Adams, currently head of Finance and Operations in Australia, will become Group Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

Steve Kay, currently head of Advertising and Marketing in Australia, will become General Manager of Rip Curl Australia and New Zealand.

[IMAGE 3] Neil Ridgway will take up the position of Group Advertising and Marketing Manager from March 11, 2003. Neil has spent the past tweleve years in the Sydney office of global publishing giant Emap, most recently in the capacity of Publishing Director for Emap’s Australian action sports, music and kids magazines. He will relocate with his family to Torquay, Victoria — the home of Rip Curl’s international headquarters.

Luiz Porto was appointed General Manager of Rip Curl’s operations in Brazil towards the end of 2002, after Rip Curl took full ownership of the business earlier last year. Luiz’s experience in brand management and development has already lifted the profile of Rip Curl in Brazil.

The major outcome from these appointments is that a very strong leadership team has been assembled, comprising both internal promotions and the attraction of new talent, to implement the next exciting phase of development for Rip Curl.

James Strong also confirmed that no decision has been made in regard to the possibility of a future float of the company. He said: “Our whole attention is directed towards building our current business. Ownership questions remain on hold and will depend on the best future direction for the business and the people who work in Rip Curl.”

Look for more information on the changes at Rip Curl in the next issue of TransWorld SURF Business

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