Pemberton bails out of Billabong

Pemberton bails out of Billabong

Founding member of international arm to remain Top 20 shareholder

SURF apparel giant Billabong will be looking to break into further off-shore markets in 2007 following record sales of more than $1 billion last term, but will do so without its international founding chairman, Gary Pemberton.

Billlabong chairman Ted Kunkel announced the retirement of Mr Pemberton at the company's recent AGM in Broadbeach.

After 25 years of serving on the board of private companies - including, Rio Tinto, John Fairfax Holdings and the Commonwealth Bank - Mr Pemberton will step out of the spotlight to spend more time on his property west of the Gold Coast. The former chairman of TAB and Qantas will remain a Top 20 shareholder in the company.

"Gary was the founding member of Billabong International Limited and his fine counsel helped to steer the company through a period of extraordinary growth," says Mr Kunkel.

The AGM also resulted in share bonuses to company CEO Derek O'Neill (44,123 shares) and Billabong US general manager, Paul Naude (42,000 shares).

Mr O'Neill says the Billabong brand remains the core facet in taking the company forward, while acquisitions such as Element and Nixon have also performed strongly in support.

"The Billabong brand remains the mainstay of the business, contributing in excess of 60 per cent of revenue and providing the company with a stable foundation on which future growth can be built," he says.

"It is being well supported by the Element brand, which accounts for 16 per cent of sales, while the company's other brands - Von Zipper, Nixon, Kustom, Honolua and Palmers Surf (wax) - are each making valuable and growing contributions. In short, we are building a portfolio of strong brands and our proven capacity to support, market and ultimately use our global operational skills to develop each one provides the company with a strong platform for ongoing growth.

"Billabong now boasts 110 company owned stores and is sold in more than 100 territories. The company posted a net profit of $145.9 million for the 2005-06 financial year - up 16.5 per cent on 2004-05.

Mr O'Neill says he expects 'mid-teen' growth to continue during 2006-07.

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