The international board sports company Rip Curl today announced the appointment of Olivier Cantet as the new Chief Executive of its European operations, centred in Hossegor, France.

Rip Curl Europe co-founder Francois Payot will officially transfer authority to Olivier at the top of Mont Blanc — Europe’s highest mountain — later this month.

Olivier joins Rip Curl from his most recent position as General Manager of the publicly-listed Lafuma Group, which operates the Millet, Le Chameau and Lafuma brand names in Europe, manufacturers of apparel, footwear, backpacks, tents, sleeping bags and camping furniture.

Announcing the appointment, Rip Curl Group Chief Executive David Lawn said: “We are very fortunate to have secured Olivier for the extremely important role of leading our European division into the future. His very strong winter business knowledge and background in the development of integrated merchandise and marketing initiatives will be invaluable to Rip Curl’s growth potential in Europe over the coming years.”

A keen climber, skier and snowboarder for more than 20 years, Olivier succeeds Rip Curl Europe co-founder Francois Payot, who has moved to a Founder Director role on the parent board of the Rip Curl Group, continuing his involvement on a non-executive basis in line with other recent restructuring of the company’s senior management globally.

Commenting on his appointment, Olivier said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for me — a position with great autonomy to lead Rip Curl Europe to the next level. Rip Curl is a technical brand that has never stopped focusing on its core roots. It is a group with a leading global merchandising plan and a strong team working well. It is also a company with a huge volume of know-how, plus it has a strong management transition plan to get in new ideas and talented young people while maintaining the unique brand and company values that have played such a big role in its success so far.”

Rip Curl Group Chairman James Strong welcomed Olivier’s appointment as another step in “the assembly of a strong new leadership team, comprising both internal promotions and the attraction of new talent, to implement the next exciting phase of development for Rip Curl”.

Despite continuing media speculation about the possibility of an impending Rip Curl float, James Strong said: “The recent management changes have not affected the ownership structure of the Rip Curl Group, with the founders — Doug Warbrick and Brian Singer — remaining as controlling shareholders. Our whole attention is directed towards building our current business. Ownership questions remain on hold and will depend on the best future direction for the business and the people who work in Rip Curl.”

Headquartered in Torquay, Australia, Rip Curl was founded in 1967 as a surfboard maker. Over the 35 years since then, Rip Curl has grown to be a major international force in the board sports industry, with its extensive range of innovative and functional products for surfing and mountain sports now sold in more than 50 countries worldwide.

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