LaCrosse, END Outline Post-Acquisition Plans

NEW YORK — END Footwear is getting a new beginning.

Last week, Portland, Ore.-based outdoor company LaCrosse Footwear Inc. said it would acquire Environmentally Neutral Design Outdoor Inc. through a newly formed subsidiary, LFI.

Under the terms of the deal, LFI will take possession of “substantially all” the assets of END, including inventory and intellectual property. The deal, for approximately $500,000, should be completed by the end of the month.

END CEO Andrew Estey, who founded the company in 2007 as a stripped-down, environmentally sensitive running and outdoor alternative for just-out-of-college athletes, will continue to lead the brand, and all six of its employees will stay on board at END’s Portland, Ore., headquarters.

Joseph Schneider, president and CEO of LaCrosse Footwear, said he was excited about the new shoppers and stores the acquisition opened up. “We look at this as a new opportunity in new channels, [to speak to a] younger target customer,” he said.

Schneider also hailed the crossover potential between END and LaCrosse’s LaCrosse and Danner boot brands, indicating that Estey would be consulting on projects outside END’s product range.

But, Schneider said, LaCrosse intended to operate END as a standalone brand.

“We want to have the brand and what it stands for remain separate, [with] the creativity and all that goes into a brand that’s freestanding,” he said. “The back end, credit and customer service, logistics — that’s where we can [make a difference]. [But] it will be seamless to the consumer and the customer.”

Schneider, however, declined to give projections for how big END could become. “We want to build it sequentially and logically,” he said.

For his part, Estey explained that the deal, which came together over two weeks, was END’s best option to move toward their goals. “It’s a good place for the brand, one that will allow us to grow at a much faster pace. We’re excited to see where it goes,” he said.

Estey said his new title was yet to be determined, but that his focus would remain on product and brand-building.

Looking ahead, Schneider did not rule out the possibility of further acquisitions.

“We’ve got a very strong balance sheet and we have no debt, and as things come up, we’ll be opportunistic,” he said. “Should something arise, we’ll certainly give it a look.”

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