Saban Brands Lifestyle Group has added Australian surf brand Piping Hot to its portfolio.
The transaction, for an undisclosed amount, represents its second acquisition in three months. And while Piping Hot is the second acquisition this year that’s also based in Australia — the first was the skate- and surf-inspired brand Mambo in January — the two deals also have helped solidify the new creative hub for SBLG that will be located in Australia. The corporate headquarters of the lifestyle group remain based in New York.
Daniel Castle, managing director of strategic business development at Saban Brands, said, “The creative hub for all of the brands under Saban’s Lifestyle Group’s umbrella will be in Sydney and Melbourne. That team will work with the U.S.-based team. So far we’ve added 25 percent more staff to both our Australia operations and the company is putting more marketing dollars there, investing in the business.”
Castle said the acquisition of a second Australian brand was a coincidence, driven by the interests of himself and that of Elie Dekel, president of Saban Brands, who also heads up Saban Brands Entertainment Group, which is based in Los Angeles.
“We’re not targeting Australian brands, but we just happen to find two that we felt would be perfect for our growing portfolio. Elie is an avid surfer, and I’m in love with the country. We’re looking at brands in every country that we think can be grown and can flourish outside of their home base. As long as we think a brand has authenticity and a passionate consumer following, and we think the rest of the world can benefit from it, we will look to add it to our portfolio,” Castle said.
As for moving the creative base to Australia, Castle said that was essentially a no-brainer: “We wanted to showcase what that country can offer around the world. Designers around the world are already routinely visiting Australia to find out what the next trends are, from color to silhouettes and to see the aesthetic. Saban is no different. We were traveling there for inspiration for Paul Frank and Power Rangers. Now we have an office there with all these talented people who will share their authentic vision for the SBLG brands.”
Castle believes Australia’s weather is one reason why the continent is a destination for the creative industry. “Australia is about being outside and experiencing nature and water. That spurs creativity and the elements are providing a lot of inspiration for design talent. Another reason is that they are at least six months ahead of us. When we are designing winter, they are already working on summer.”
Piping Hot was established in 1975 in Torquay, on Victoria’s surf coast. For the past 18 years, the brand has had an exclusive retail partnership with Target Australia, which has helped expand product categories beyond surfboards to include swimwear, footwear, beach towels and headwear, to name a few.
Although Mark Johannsen, the former managing director of Piping Hot, is taking a step back from heading up the operation, he and his children still will be involved with the company, working with Saban in different capacities.
Castle said Saban has already started to invest in and work on the design direction of the brand, as well as putting together a strategy for marketing and expansion overseas. “We have the trademark registered in every country…[and] are investing a lot more money into the brand. Over the next 12 to 24 months, you will begin to see Piping Hot in other countries,” he said.