Burton Laying Off Staff

As reported by Label Networks’ Global Youth Culture Weekly Analysis Newsletter

We heard through Burton-friends and others in the industry such as Transworld Business Online and Fuel TV, that Burton Snowboards laid-off up to 50 people in total last week—including the entire The Syndicate staff which contributed to creative direction for the brand.

Burton’s east coast office supposedly layed-off 30 of that 50—mostly from the marketing department.

While no press release has come out yet from the privately held company, looking at our sports and apparel data from the winter season, we can see what many consumers in youth culture believe are the hot brands in snowboarding—not to mention youth culture in North America overall—which have shifted when it comes to the sport and the broader picture of action sports and even broader picture of lifestyle apparel.

As we’ve reported in the past in our Snowboarding Profile Reports, Burton tends to rank high as a favorite brand in snowboarding fashion (and hardgoods, but both percentages have been changing over the last few seasons), but in terms of overall data in the youth culture marketplace in terms of fashion, it’s barely on the radar. Its backpacks do better (see our Accessories Profile Report). Many attempts by Burton to turn itself into more than just a snowboarding brand have not been all that successful yet. However, we’ve seen brands come in from fresh angles into new markets quickly, even re-inventing themselves successfully (i.e. Airwalk, Fred Perry, Carhartt, Dickies) so perhaps the downsizing of Burton today may mean a leaner machine entering new markets tomorrow.

Taking things one step further in terms of forecasting, there may be a correlation in what’s going on with Burton and streetwear, and the trepidation ASR trade show may feel about the trade show Agenda. While one increases, the other gets more nervous, as more so-called action sports brands move into the crossover of streetwear in their attempts to be more lifestyle-oriented—which for many now, has almost nothing to do with action sports—or comes from one of many new growing subcultures spawned from action sports creating yet another niche. Unfortunately for many traditional brands in action sports, they haven’t seen the speed of change coming—even though the writing’s been on the wall (and in our data) for years. For Burton, perhaps shedding the fat will make it faster at catching up to where the markets’ already headed. They are leaders afterall—even by way of their recent downsizing–meaning we can learn from how this brand fixes itself in the future.

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