The current North and Duotone situation is getting a bit confusing. In summary, the old North is now called Duotone and the new North is a totally new brand. If you’re still confused, here are the details that should clear it all up.
First, there are 2 corporate entities involved:
1. Boards and More (BM) – manufacturer and distributor of watersports equipment and accessories. BM owns a few brands like ION, Fanatic, and now Duotone.
2. North Technology Group (NTG) – manufacturer of sailing products and accessories. NTG owns North Sails, North Kiteboarding, as well as general North accessories and clothing brands.
* When kiteboarding started getting popular in 2000, BM licensed the NORTH label from NTG to get better exposure since the name was well known in the sailing and windsurfing world.
* BM has designed and manufactured all of their kiteboarding products, as well as developed the team and distribution for the last 2 decades.
* Everything you have known to be North Kiteboarding has been the work of BM.
* For whatever reason, BM and NTG have chosen to go separate ways. There are a lot of rumors and chatter about this on online kiteboarding forums, but in the long run, who cares?!
* Everything but the label will stay identical – gear designs, manufacturing, team, distribution, etc. Nobody at BM has jumped ship.
* NTG is now regrouping and trying to design and manufacture their own kiteboarding equipment, develop the team and distribution network from scratch as soon as possible. Not an easy task. But, they hired some industry veterans and they have a well recognized brand name. At the moment, they are planning to release a full line of new kiteboarding gear under the NORTH brand by fall 2019.
What does it all mean for most kiteboarders? Only good things. More competition means better products, better service, maybe better pricing? If you own any BM products, all your warranties and support will still be done the same exact way – through your dealer and BM.
In the end, the big question is what’s more important – the gear or the name? In this case, both have a stellar reputation and hold a lot of clout. Will be interesting to see how it will all resolve.