In the early 1980’s Cheron Kraak was offered the licence to manufacture Billabong in South Africa by good friend and Billabong founder, Australian Gordon Merchant.
Twenty-nine years later, Cheron built Country Feeling and Billabong up into a clothing empire with a multi-million rand annual turnover, encapsulating the unique lifestyle that surfing and Jeffreys Bay has to offer. A huge factory overlooking the surf at Kitchen Windows employs hundreds of staff who design, manufacture, market and ship the merchandise to the Billabong stores through South Africa and the rest of the world.
The Billabong shop at Magna Tubes, Jeffreys Bay, opened in 1992, boasts a huge red surfboard mounted on top of the roof, built by Robbie Ponting and built to scale, which is 19’5” in length, is the longest surfboard in Africa!
The Billabong Surf Village opened in 1999, boasting a skatepark for youngsters as well as a factory outlet and the thatched Billabong Concept Shop, which acts as South Africa’s showcase for the international brand. The Village also houses the headquarters for Billabong, Von Zipper Eyewear, Element Clothing and Skate hard goods as well as newly attained Kustom Footwear label. The Real Food Co. offers the visitors to the Surf Village a selection of high quality health foods and drinks on the deck opposite to the Country Khaya, which sells, imported Indonesian goods, ceramics and local surf art. The village has turned an otherwise dull side of town into a wonderful attraction.
In 2005 Billabong was awarded the best female clothing label in South Africa as a result of the Generation Next Survey which is conducted by the Sunday Times newspaper.
The Billabong Clothing company was awarded the Khuza award as the “Best Brand Communicator” in the teen market in 2006. Cheron Kraak owned some 16 shops through South Africa and Billabong goods are sold through some 3,000 shops worldwide. In 2007 she handed back the franchise to Billabong Australia.
TEXT: R Hift
PHOTOGRAPHS: R Hift / Billabong
Port Elizabeth founded the first Amateur Athletics Club in 1880.
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3 October 2012 7:51