Late last night we caught wind of an interesting memo sent out to Burton Snowboards Independent Sales Rep. In a nut shell, they will be firing all of their independent reps (unless they were lucky enough to land a new gig within the organization) and moving to an in-house sales structure with 5 main territories . Early this morning, www.agnarchy.com published the memo, read that here. The memo is somewhat vague, but lays out their new plan to focus more on their DTC (direct to consumer) sales, their premium retail accounts, and resorts.
Is this shocking? Maybe to some retailers because they have built their entire business selling Burton, and will argue that they helped create Burton into what it is today. Truth is, they are probably right, but if you don't remember a year ago, we talked about "adapt or die." Burton is taking matters into their own hands, maybe they are tired of being burned for millions each year for major closings/bankruptcies, or maybe they are tired of chasing down money from dealers who fail to pay, we can only speculate, and in my opinion you can only sell so many "free boards." At the end of the day that doesn't pay the bills!
For years there has been a growing disconnect with dealers and brands, and we are no stranger to the issue. The fight for selling direct vs selling to dealers/wholesale is a legitimate problem with aging brick and mortar locations, lack of technology, and outdated business models. Some shops do not have a website, others have websites that are not functional, while others have invested into having a stable online foot print. I would argue that in today's world, a companies website is the first impression people see over the sign that sits 10 feet high in front of their store.
We do our best to ensure our dealers have a successful sell through, and in fact it has been part of our focus for the last 7 years. We have instituted a distribution network with our dealers to be able to fulfill orders in their territory with our items on their shelves. The idea behind it; if we already have that snowboard on a store shelf, why would we manufacture another one and send it to that customer? Essentially we would have two snowboards but only one paying customer, which in my opinion is the exact recipe for over production which will result in liquidation of carry over product.
Change is hard, but come on, it wasn't like you were newlyweds, you were the couple that managed to get by, but you were putting in all the effort only to get screwed in a different way than you initially intended.
Ironically inside of Burton's Headquarters is a motto on their wall, "You need to know where you've been before you know where you are going." I'm sure all you non-premium dealers appreciate that.
Last opinion: If I am one of the independent shops aka "non-premium dealers" I would be spending the next few months educating myself on what brands you can sell in your shop. You are going to need a new strategy, because that giant B is no longer a sale, ironically it has to become your new sales pitch.