Since the age of 21, Anthony has continually set himself challenges and multiplied all kinds of experiences in Action Sports. He built his career step by step. 15 years later, he has become the European General Manager of the accessories brand Electric.
Was living on the west coast a premeditated choice?
I discovered the ocean quite late, when I was 19 on a trip to Biarritz. I was completely enthralled by the location where Haussmann chic buildings watch over bare footed surfers walking down the boardwalk… I told myself that one day I’d come back and live in Biarritz.
Where did you go to school?
Actually, I am half English so the easy path was to study languages, which I did until a “licence” (equivalent to an associate’s degree). I completed my degree with an internship in California at Rusty thanks to my uncle who was the designer at Redsand, a brand in the same group at that time. I came back I just knew had to work in Action Sports.
Tell us about your experience before becoming Manager at Electric.
I got my first job at Quiksilver at 21 as Merchandiser for UK and Ireland. Very quickly, I was named as a representative for menswear and then for key accounts in the UK. After that, I came back to France where I reorganized the entire distribution network of excess stock for Napali.
In 2004, Quiksilver took over DC Shoes and named me Sales Manager for France, which for me, at the age of 27 was an amazing experience. It allowed me to start managing people and an entire brand for a specific area.
In 2008, I managed to get the position of EMEA Sales Manager at Nixon where I learned a ton of things, namely in watches, a distribution network I knew nothing of prior to that.
In 2013, I decided to follow the new General Manager at Oxbow, who had an ambitious plan to reboot the brand. But the shareholders changed the day I got there and the company was no longer following the initial plan I’d signed up for. I therefore had no reason to stay.
How did the rest happen?
I joined Electric in May 2013 as Sales Director. At the time, the brand was completely changing its identity and strategy. A month after my arrival, the managing team in the US and namely Eric Crane, the CEO at Electric whom I’d worked with at Nixon, offered me the position as General Manager.
Is becoming the head of a company a new challenge?
Once you get to know what you have in your hands and you know where you want to take it, all you have to do next is to implement a general company overview to then make the necessary changes to support your new strategy.
It took us almost 2 years to set up a structure to meet our expectations. It’s not easy, but it makes the challenge all the more exciting. Today, we have a a well-oiled machine of a company and a a strong team that really wants to work. You can feel how much the brand means to them and how they want to stand up for it and that, for me, is true satisfaction.
“For me, the most important is to recruit a team that is not afraid to get their hands dirty.”
What kind of relationship do you have with your teams?
I’ve played rugby for most of my life and it really teaches you about team work and the individual at the heart of the team. If you leave out the human aspect, there is no team and therefore no game and naturally no victory. For me, the most important is to recruit a team that is not afraid to get their hands dirty and willing to defend a common project.
I don’t believe in top-down style management with a boss that imposes choices arbitrarily. I give employees a lot of freedom through responsibilities so it is up to them to manage their own perimeter and reach success within it.
Do you also spend time together outside work?
Yes, of course, and it’s very important to do so. We go surfing at lunch time, go to the Bayonne fiestas, and have a Christmas party. We also have drinks from time to time and we have breakfast together at the office several times per month.
In 2013, you changed strategies. What is the new Electric?
We realized that our core market had evolved and that our customers wanted something else. Today, they want more elegant and refined products. We therefore helped the brand evolve to both stick with our consumer from 15 years ago who is now in his/her thirties or forties while staying legitimate for the 15-25 age group.
Why leave eyewear and go into watches?
It’s actually quite logical. If you look at what men’s luxury accessories brands offer, you see that watches and eyewear go hand in hand. We already did eyewear. We needed to get into watches. It was therefore a natural step to launch watches in 2013 and target year-round business rather than just a seasonal one such as snow masks and sunglasses.
You also have an apparel range?
Yes, but it’s pretty basic with just T-shirts and sweatshirts. In fact for us, apparel is the accessory of our brand.
What’s a typical day at the office for you?
In the morning, I take the kids to school before I go to the office. When I get in, I have a cup of coffee with my colleagues before starting my day, which revolves around various meetings. At lunchtime, either I go surfing or I have lunch with my wife because I am incredibly lucky to be able to pop back home for lunch. If not, I have lunch with my colleagues. I generally finish work quite late. I like working in the evening and I often have conference calls with the americans who are on a different time slot. I head home around 7:30pm or 8pm just in time to read my kids a bedtime story and tuck them in.
“You have to keep in mind that we don’t save lives. We just try to help people dream through products and marketing.”
What drives you? What’s your fuel?
The desire to succeed, to do things right, to go all the way and not go about it halfheartedly. What drives me in life is working in an environment I enjoy, with cool people. At Electric, we’ve made our way out of the woods, even though the brand already had a good reputation. I’m actually in awe of how far we’ve come and where we are today. But I always say that you have to keep in mind that we don’t save lives here. We just try to help people dream through products and marketing. It’s important to keep a perspective on things.
What advice would you give someone trying to start a career in Action Sports?
To do it out of passion, to do things 100% and to be patient. Recruiting interns in the past, I’ve noticed that they always want jobs with responsibilities and big pay checks right away. That’s not how it works. You have to prove yourself first. In my case, I started from the bottom of the ladder and made my way up. I worked hard and was patient.
Why is being a member of EuroSIMA important to you?
It strengthens our ties with other brands in the industry, and that is very important. Today, I really want Electric to have a voice and to help out when it can and in return get the help we need when we need it. Being a EuroSIMA member allows me to represent the brand, to talk about what we do and about our future projects. The more members take part in EuroSIMA projects, the louder our common voice will be and the more our message will be heard.
What can we wish you for the future?
Professionally, the most important to me is succeeding with the Electric project.
– Electric –