Living The Dream: Billabong's U.S. Chief Quits to `Surf More'

  • Ed Leasure resigns after nine years with surfwear maker
  • Lifelong surfer made boards in his Florida garage in 1972

Ed Leasure, Billabong International president for the Americas, right, with Billabong CEO Neil Fiske.

Source: Shop-Eat-Surf via Billabong

Some executives claim they’re quitting to spend more time with their family. Others cite personal reasons. Not Ed Leasure, Billabong International Ltd.’s president for the Americas.

The 59-year-old has told shareholders he’s off to the beach. He’ll step down at the end of this month to “surf more,” according to a statement to the stock exchange Thursday by the Gold Coast, Australia-based surfwear maker.

A lifelong surfer, Leasure started making boards in his Florida garage in 1972 before founding the Quiet Flight chain of stores in the U.S. His retirement after a 40-year career in action sports comes as Billabong Chief Executive Officer Neil Fiske seeks to revive a brand that was written off as worthless less than three years ago.

Shannan North, Billabong’s brand president, will now lead the company’s retail operations in the Americas, according to the statement. Under Fiske, who took over in September 2013, Billabong reported its first full-year profit since 2011 in the 12 months ended June 2015.

Shares of Billabong, which accepted a refinancing plan from U.S. private-equity funds in 2013, fell 4.5 percent to A$2.11 at 12:33 p.m. in Sydney. That values the company at just A$418 million ($294 million).

The company’s market value reached A$3.84 billion in May 2007 before major clothing store chains introduced their own surfwear brands and consumer spending slumped in the world’s debt crisis.

Leasure will remain a consultant and ambassador for the company.

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