Mike Dunlap and International Sales Manager Justin Reyes.

Transworld Business caught up with Podium Distribution’s VP of Sales, Mike Dunlap, to discuss the details of the company’s decision to enter into a  distribution agreement with Billabong in Australia and New Zealand. Here’s what he had to say about the deal, and what it means for the future of the brands Podium represents.

What prompted the change in distribution for Podium in Australia and NZ?

Billabong had presented the opportunity to us, including the ability to be quickly integrated into their distribution channels, not only from the Billabong owned retail, but also the retail network that exists there.  While our distributor there has done a great job of representing our brands in both markets for many years, there were some avenues of retail that we were not able to penetrate.  We felt that with the brand strength of the Billabong portfolio, along with their financial leverage, would allow us the opportunity to place our brands in the market and grow revenue accordingly.

What exactly, does the new agreement entail?

Billabong will be taking over distribution of the Podium brands for all of Australia.  However, in New Zealand, they will be distributing DVS and Matix in Billabong-owned retail locations only.  Our current distributor, who was responsible for both OZ and NZ, will still handle the distribution of all brands to the remainder of the NZ market.

What strategic advantages does working with Billabong offer Podium in these territories?

The ability to leverage their retail distribution network and strong customer relationships will be a great advantage.  As the market there has consolidated with respect to the breadth of brands carried by the retailers, being a part of the Billabong portfolio of brands will help us to widen our reach in these markets.  Additionally, Billabong has an excellent track record as a marketing powerhouse and we look forward to sharing ideas on how to build on our brand recognition in both OZ and NZ.

Will this have any effect on Podium’s domestic US presence?

No.  It’s two completely separate markets and really shouldn’t have any effects either way.

Will Billabong’s buys be stronger than Podium’s former distributor? If so, why?

We expect them to be, via their expanded distribution network.

How significant are the Australian and NZ territories to Podium’s business? Will the new deal with Billabong allow Podium brands greater mobility and presence in these territories? Does Podium expect to grow its business there as a result of this new deal?

The OZ and NZ territories are tremendous opportunities for all brands in our space.  The retail network in both countries is vast and embraces action sports as fervently as we do here in the States.  For the companies that have been successful in these countries, the results can have a significant impact on overall sales.  We look forward to being a bigger part of that.

What about on the marketing end? Will Billabong’s resources be used to help market Podium brands in these territories? What will that mix entail?

Absolutely.  As a distributor, they will be utilizing their resources to market our brands in both OZ and NZ.  As the agreement is freshly signed, we haven’t nailed down the exact mix yet.  However, we expect to move forward with current marketing contracts as well as explore new avenues of marketing that Billabong is involved with leveraging media relationships, athletes, etc.

How close will Podium be working with Billabong on this new venture? Will it be more hands on than with the previous distributor?

As with all of our key distributors, we will be in contact with them continuously.  This is no different than how we worked with the previous distributor.  We try to develop product that appeals to all of our key markets, however, there are always gaps when we are delivering to the global market.  We will be working closely with them to fill those gaps, and capitalize on sales we would not have otherwise achieved through our main lines.

How will access to Billabong’s retail stores in NZ affect Podium’s retail business there?

With the additional sales we will achieve from the Billabong retail stores, we will be able to capitalize on the marketing budget created from those sales.  We will be working closely with Billabong and our current distributor on collaborating on marketing initiatives, and how best to maximize brand exposure.  We believe that this will only be a positive for the brands and the retailers.

How has this new deal been received by Podium retailers in Aus and NZ? What advantages or disadvantages will this deal present local retailers?

I think most of the retailers will be very supportive of this move, especially with the increased marketing and exposure of the brands. We come from a retail background and truly try and make decisions we feel will benefit them in the long haul. We will work closely with Billabong on a distribution plan to accomplish that.

Is this the first time Podium has been approached by Billabong? Is this deal indicative of a broader business relationship down the line?

Yes, this is the first time we have spoken about a distribution deal. We have known many of the Bong guys for years and really respect what they have done with their business model.  We will take this one step at a time and if other opportunities arise that make sense for everyone involved, then we will definitely consider them.

Interview conducted by Cullen Poythress.