Authentic Brands Group CEO Jamie Salter said that his team of employees was crucial to winning Company of the Year at the 35th annual FN Achievement Awards.
ABG generated nonstop buzz in 2021. The retail powerhouse, led by Salter and president and CMO Nick Woodhouse recently secured a pair of major new investors thanks to its talent in reviving struggling yet iconic brands like Juicy Couture, Lucky Brand, Forever 21, JCPenney, and Barneys New York.
In an interview in ABG’s New York offices, Salter said family values live at the center of everything ABG does.
“We do believe in family,” he said. “The most important part about ABG is having a great time every single day. My theory is, if you have a lot of fun, you’re going to probably do pretty good in business. Money’s just a scorecard.”
As Salter explained in his acceptance speech on Tuesday night, while the pandemic made a lot of brands think that “the world was going to end,” ABG saw potential for growth and swooped in to collect and revive these brands. Thus far, this strategy has paid off. According to Salter, the crowned “jewel” of ABG’s collection is Reebok.
The deal happened, in part, because of the influence of former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal, who became ABG’s second-largest shareholder after he sold the rights to his namesake brand in 2015. An avid deal-maker himself, O’Neal has helped ABG target brands with strong turnaround potential. In the case of Reebok, the former athlete was adamant that the company make a competitive offer to acquire the footwear label from Adidas.
“Being that I’m partners with [Jamie] — the brand master and reviver, the guy who works magic — I told him, ‘I think you should get Reebok,'” O’Neal told FN. “He never said no. And then one day I wasn’t even thinking about it and he said, ‘I got a big surprise for you. I’m going to send you something. I want you to sign it. Don’t look at it, just sign it.’ So I signed it. He said, ‘Congratulations, my friend, we own Reebok.’ And it was one of the best days in my life.”
“People say, ‘Oh, you’re going after Adidas’ or ‘You’re going after Nike,'” Salter told FN previously. “We’re not going after Adidas, we’re not going after Nike. We’re going after building a great brand.”