This will be the last of my Watercooler blogs on the SKINS website.
I am devastated to announce that today SKINS has filed for bankruptcy with the Swiss Court. A Trustee will be appointed to assume responsibility for the company with almost immediate effect.
My management team and I have left no stone unturned in an effort to avoid this. I apologise unreservedly to all those affected by it.
I am enormously regretful and sad that it has got to this point. Even as late as yesterday, it looked like there was an option for avoiding this action but events conspired against us and left us with no option at all.
SKINS as a brand will not disappear; the brand will merely change ownership; and those of you who love and already wear SKINS will still be able to buy the products.
SKINS is a genuine pacesetter. We led the creation and manufacture of sports compression wear, and we pride ourselves on continuing to lead the sports performance category in terms of innovation and performance.
I bought into SKINS about 17 years ago because I wanted to get into sport. I was so thrilled to be owning a brand where they not only made something innovative, bold and ambitious – garments that improve sports performance and aid recovery – but it was also an opportunity to do and contribute to something ‘bigger’, and help make sport better.
Our entire brand positioning was around ‘changing the world through sport’.
It is what we set out to do; to help level the playing field on-and-off the field through championing important issues and holding sport to account for being everything we love about it – competitive, fair, based on teamwork and good sportsmanship, dedication, commitment, integrity. They were all traits that were – and are – important to us.
We worked to help bring sport back to its basic tenets, fuelled by the spirit of pure competition. As a brand, we wanted to make a difference, and we like to think that we have.
So the question you’re probably pondering is how did it get to this.
It’s a fair question, and I can’t point to one thing and one thing alone. There have been many contributing factors, as well as mistakes I’ve made along the way. I’ve been open about some of those mistakes and I will not recount all of them, but they have nonetheless compounded one upon the other to get to this point.
Roll-on effect of GFC
What has brought us to this point really started 11 years ago. When the global financial crisis (GFC) hit in 2008, I sold a portion of SKINS to a private equity firm. I also made a lousy deal.
When the GFC was over, I had to get out of the private equity arrangement. To do so, we borrowed heavily, and with the help of a Japanese partner we managed to buy out the private equity shareholders.
To my enormous regret, those borrowings have become unsustainable and while we have been working for some time now to try to avoid what is happening today, in the end there was no choice.
Making a difference
During this 17 years, SKINS has been proud to stand-up for sports people and the ideals of sport too.
We helped change world cycling governance.
We helped bring attention to the issue of drugs in sport, and how sport should deal with it.
We highlighted the hypocrisy of FIFA’s sponsors in supporting a World Cup that would be built on the back of migrant labour.
We helped call out the dodgy decisions of FIFA, long before the FIFA arrests.
We helped bring greater awareness of homophobia in sport through our #RainbowLaces campaign in Australia.
We helped champion greater gender equity in sport, and focus attention on the importance of fans as people, not just ‘metrics’.
When others were not willing to hold a light to organisations such as the IOC, WADA, FIFA, the UCI and the IAAF, or the people who wield power inside them, we did.
We made a lot of enemies. And also a lot of friends.
Everyone at SKINS has been enormously proud of our work in these and other areas.
Throughout all of this, I also had the honour and privilege to meet some wonderful people. My team and I have enjoyed working with them. Sports people, journalists, whistleblowers, MPs, academics and social change activists.
I want to pay tribute to the staff and partners of SKINS around the world who have worked diligently, astutely, loyally, tirelessly to bring the SKINS brand to life in every way.
They are a fantastic team, all of whom I have loved having as part of the SKINS family.
I thank you all from the bottom of my heart, and wish you all the best for your futures. I am so, so sorry that this has happened and am simply devastated.
Please be assured that I have tried everything possible to avoid having to take this action today. Absolutely everything.
In sporting terms, I left nothing out on the park.
Thank you again to everyone who has bought SKINS, enjoyed wearing SKINS, worked with SKINS, and supported SKINS.
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If you want to stay in touch, please do so via Twitter: @jaimiefuller