Outspoken Skins chief Fuller silenced as company declares bankruptcy
Skins, the compression sportswear company owned by Jamie Fuller, the outspoken advocate for integrity in sport, has filed for bankruptcy in Switzerland.
In his last-ever blog on the company’s website, Fuller, its executive chairman, yesterday posted: “A Trustee will be appointed to assume responsibility for the company with almost immediate effect…
“Skins as a brand will not disappear; the brand will merely change ownership.”
Fuller wrote: “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’.”
Fuller made both friends and enemies in sport through speaking out and mounting campaigns over issues such as the Fifa corruption scandal and doping. Skins was also active as a sponsor of sports teams.
In an interview with Sportcal Insight in 2017, Fuller said that he had never claimed to be ‘the Bob Geldof of sport’, as had been widely reported in his many appearances in print.
What he said, he claimed, was that he wanted Skins to be the Bob Geldof of sport, with a “mission to change the world through sport.”
Asked what is the return on investment for a brand from gaining a name for speaking out over ethical issues, Fuller replied: “There’s no return on investment. I take decisions on the basis of the long term. I don’t sit and say, ‘how much should we spend on a Fifa [criticism] campaign?’ This is brand-building, it’s developing brand equity. Guys like Steve Jobs, they didn’t explain functionality or say what the price was. Brand-building is an art in itself.
“The objective is to get the public to understand what we stand for; what we believe in; who we are. We want them to choose Skins for two reasons: one, because it’s a superior performance product; and two, because they love what this brand does. More people buy with the heart than the head - except for the Swiss and Germans!”
In his blog Fuller blamed the global financial crisis that began in 2008 for the ultimate collapse of the company. He wrote: “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.”
To read the full Sportcal Insight interview with Fuller, click here.