Catch all the latest news about footwear industry acquisitions, and licensing and distribution agreements here. Got a deal in the works? Tell us at email@example.com.
Dec. 2, 2021: French Legacy Group is on the expansion trail. The company is adding heritage brand Heschung to its portfolio, which also includes Clergerie, Avril Gau and Violet Tomas. With its 82 employees in the Alsace area — bordered by the foothills of the Vosges — Heschung uses Norwegian stitching and the Goodyear welt, which ensures the shoes are waterproof and can be resoled many times. (The brand was founded in 1934.) “French Legacy Group’s ambition is to showcase French heritage and know-how in footwear and leather goods. With its meticulous and artisanal expertise, Heschung is perfectly aligned with this strategy,” said Jérôme Espinos, President of FLG. Pierre Heschung, grandson of the brand’s founder, who will stay on as CEO. “By joining forces with FLG, we are taking forward a history that has spanned a century. Our heritage brands with strong identities complement each other, one focused on women and the other on men.” As it begins a new chapter, Heschung is looking to expand its international presence, particularly in the U.S. and Asia.
Nov. 30, 2021: Authentic Brands Group has signed a deal with SPARC Group (SPARC) to make it the official licensee and operating partner for Reebok in the U.S. ABG, which acquired Reebok from Adidas earlier this year, will entrust SPARC with sourcing, manufacturing and overseeing retail and e-commerce operations in the U.S. “Reebok is the most monumental acquisition in ABG’s history,” said Jamie Salter, founder, chairman and CEO of ABG. “Because of the reach of Reebok’s business around the globe, an essential part of the strategy was to maintain the brand hub that supports and guides a global partner network to preserve and nurture the brand’s heartbeat and unmistakable DNA. Starting with SPARC for the U.S., we are assembling a network of strategic operating partners around the world who are committed to supporting the brand’s innovation, integrity and values. We are excited about the expertise that RDG will continue to infuse into the future of Reebok.”
Nov. 29, 2021: eBay Inc. has acquired Sneaker Con’s global sneaker authentication business. Under this new deal, eBay deepens its relationship with Sneaker Con, which has powered its Authenticity Guarantee service since October of 2020. Since then, eBay has authenticated over 1.5 million sneakers across the world with the technology and expertise from Sneaker Con. “eBay has always been a vibrant community of enthusiasts, with deeply knowledgeable buyers, sellers and employees,” said Jordan Sweetnam, SVP and GM of eBay North America. “We partnered with Sneaker Con to launch sneaker authentication on eBay last year because the team shared our passion for the category – with best-in-class capabilities to deliver what our customers want most. The response to our authentication offering has been overwhelming, and this acquisition allows us to continue to transform eBay and bring a higher level of trust and confidence to every transaction.”
Nov. 17, 2021: StockX has announced the acquisition of power seller tool developer Scout. According to a statement, StockX said Scout serves more than 10,000 sneaker resellers globally. The acquisition of Scout, according to StockX, will help its customers accelerate their businesses and ramp up inventory with best-in-class automation, inventory management, tracking and integration with marketplaces. StockX said it will provide Scout for free to qualifying sellers, and all sellers who are currently using Scout will have access to the service and its features free of charge. With the acquisition, Scout’s three co-founders and seven employees will join StockX in product, engineering and account management roles.
“StockX is fiercely committed to unlocking economic opportunity for our global community and this acquisition is one of many investments we’re making to ensure we deliver on that promise,” StockX CEO Scott Cutler said in a statement. “With the addition of this new technology, we’ll help our customers accelerate their businesses like never before.”
Nov. 5, 2021: Centric Brands LLC and WHP Global announced on Friday that they entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the Joe’s Jeans brand from the bankrupt Sequential. The deal, which has been approved by a court, is still subject to customary closing conditions. Under the new deal, WHP will own the brand’s worldwide intellectual property in all global territories except for China. Centric will exclusively license Joe’s Jeans for their core categories and geographies across retail, wholesale, and e-commerce.
Nov. 1, 2021: Foot Locker Inc. announced that it has completed the acquisition of Atmos. The retail giant stated it has completed the acquisition for $360 million, subject to certain customary adjustments. According to Foot Locker, Atmos will maintain its brand name and will be part of the Foot Locker family of brands.
“We deeply value Atmos’s unique brand, innovative, experiential stores, premium offerings, collaborations and understanding of sneakerhead culture. Atmos expands our global reach in the rapidly growing Asia-Pacific market, establishes a critical entry point in Japan and allows us to benefit from immediate scale. We are excited about the many opportunities we will collectively be able to capture as a result of this partnership as we continue creating significant long-term value for our shareholders, consumers, vendor partners and employees,” Foot Locker chairman, president and CEO Dick Johnson said in a statement.
Oct. 22, 2021: JD Sports Fashion Plc has expanded its presence in Europe by acquiring 80% of Greece-based sporting goods retail chain Cosmos Sport S.A. Prior to this transaction, JD Sports said Cosmos was 70% owned by the Tsiknakis Family, with EOS Capital Partners AIFM holding a 30% stake. JD Sports stated EOS disposed of its entire holding in this transaction. Cosmos operates 57 stores in Greece and three in Cyprus under several banners, led by Cosmos with 32 stores and Sneaker 10 with 19 stores. JD confirmed that Cosmos generated revenues of approximately 52 million euros (approximately $60.6 million) for the year ended Dec. 30, 2020.
Oct. 21, 2021: Over the past year, Josmo Shoes has added three new brands to its roster of licensed kids’ shoes. The company, which has been manufacturing footwear for over 30 years, is now producing special-occasion looks for designer label Badgley Mischka. It also is making infant shoes for the activewear brand RBX and creating kids’ styles for French Toast, best known for its school uniforms. Josmo’s roster also includes Avalanche, Kensie, Beverly Hills Polo Club and others.
Oct. 19, 2021: Private equity firm Hellman & Friedman has made a binding offer and entered into an agreement to acquire The NPD Group, the market information provider announced today. In a statement, NPD confirmed its executive chairman Tod Johnson and CEO Karyn Schoenbart would retain a minority stake in the business and continue to serve on the board of directors. NPD said the transaction is expected to close by the end of 2021. NPD, which was founded in 1966, has operations in the Americas, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, and covers more than 20 industries.
Oct. 13, 2021: Poshmark has acquired Suede One, a platform that virtually authenticates sneakers. The deal marks Poshmark’s first ever-acquisition in the peer-to-peer resale platform’s 10-year history. It also represents a commitment to expanding verified offerings in the realm of high-heat sneakers and luxury items. Suede One authenticates sneakers via computer vision, machine learning and human review.
“We are laser focused on making strategic investments that fuel the continued growth of our business, give the best overall experience for buyers and make our marketplace the number one, most trusted destination for sellers,” said Manish Chandra, founder and CEO of Poshmark.
Oct. 7, 2021: Sergio Tacchini Europe Ltd. and Batra Group have entered into a long-term license agreement, which will begin with the spring ’22 season. According to a statement, Batra Group will distribute Sergio Tacchini-branded apparel and accessories to UK and Ireland retailers under this arrangement.
“The Batra Group, led by Rajiv Batra, is a world class fashion apparel company with a keen understanding of today’s streetwear customer,” Sergio Tacchini CEO Howard Cohen said in a statement. “Rajiv and his organization will not only manage the greater UK market, but also will be a key partner as we enhance the profile of the brand on the world stage.”
Sept. 29, 2021: Authentic Brands Group, owner of dozens of major fashion and footwear labels, has named Footwear Unlimited as the new licensing partner for its Frye boot brand. As part of the long-term deal, Footwear Unlimited will now be responsible for the design, manufacture and distribution of Frye footwear in the U.S. That includes a range of offerings for men, women and kids, including casual and dress boots and shoes, winter styles, sandals and flip-flops, sport shoes and slippers. Footwear Unlimited is best known for its BareTraps fashion-comfort brand, though in addition to Frye, it also holds the shoe license for Spyder (another ABG label). Christina Martin Pieper, SVP of brand, lifestyle at ABG, said in a statement, “Footwear Unlimited is a highly trusted footwear operator, bringing generations of expertise in sourcing, design, manufacturing as well as strong retail relationships. We are confident that they will uphold the fine quality and craftsmanship that Frye has been delivering to consumers for more than 150 years.”
Sept. 28, 2021: Neptune Mountaineering, a Boulder, Colo.-based outdoor retailer, has been acquired by Ute Mountaineer of Aspen, Colo. Neptune Mountaineering confirmed in a statement that the deal would be finalized on Sept. 30. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Andrew Dunbar, co-owner of Neptune Mountaineering, said via statement that the store was not on the market, however he and his wife, Shelley Dunbar, were quietly looking for the right people to take over. “We did what we set out to do: reimagined what a modern Neptune could look like, created a venue for Gary Neptune’s renown museum, reengaged with the local nonprofit community, reinvigorated our longtime loyal customers and attracted new ones, and created a fun workplace with passionate team members,” Andrew Dunbar said in a statement, “All of which set the business up to be financially successful.” Neptune Mountaineering was founded in 1973 by Gary Neptune, and was purchased by Andrew and Shelly Dunbar in 2017.
Sept. 27, 2021: Dick’s Sporting Goods announced that its House of Sport store in Knoxville, Tenn., has been named a corporate partner of University of Tennessee Athletics. With the multiyear agreement, the sporting goods retailer stated its House of Sport banner will become the presenting partner of Youth Sports Day at Tennessee for youth players, coaches and families, as well as the annual Tennessee Football Spring Coaches Clinic for middle and high school coaches. Also, both DSG and the university will aim to create opportunities to expand youth participation in these activities, and offer clinics and camps at the 24,000-square-foot House of Sport field. Special events will be hosted at the store, DSG said, and there will be store-exclusive special promotions on Volunteers gear and apparel.
Sept. 23, 2021: G-III Apparel Group has entered into an agreement to purchase luxury fashion brand Sonia Rykiel, a leader in Parisian fashion. Under the agreement, which is expected to close in October, G-III will oversee the European relaunch of the brand in 2022 through its vast management and supply chain capabilities. G-III owns DKNY, Donna Karan and Vilebrequin, among other brands.
Sept. 23, 2021: Livestream shopping platform Ntwrk announced today that it has received a $50 million investment, which was led by Goldman Sachs Asset Management and Kering, also including participation from LionTree Partners and Tenere Capital. In a statement, Ntwrk said it will use the funds to bolster its growth, market share and increase its global footprint.
“Our vision is to become the biggest, most culturally relevant, livestream shopping marketplace for Gen-Z and Millennial audiences who are obsessed with pop culture. It’s exciting for NTWRK to have Goldman Sachs and Kering sign on for the future of livestream shopping,” Ntwrk CEO Aaron Levant said in a statement.
Prior investors in Ntwrk, which was established in 2018, include Main Street Advisors, Live Nation, Foot Locker and others.
Sept. 22, 2021: Gabrielle Union‘s namesake fashion line is back. The actress is relaunching her brand with New York & Company under the Saadia Group. The Gabrielle Union line was first launched exclusively at New York & Company in fall 2017. Starting today, the label will be available online at both New York & Company as well as at Lord & Taylor. The first release ranges in price from $49.95 to $149.95 and includes maxi dresses, bold knits, denim and matching sets.
Saadia Group also announced today that it has acquired its first luxury brand, Aquatalia, from Global Brands Group for an undisclosed amount. The deal was approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York and is expected to close in the next few weeks. The company is looking to build its business in the luxury footwear category,
Sept. 21, 2021: Foot Locker Inc. has completed its acquisition of WSS. The retail giant announced today that the WSS acquisition has been completed for $750 million in cash, subject to customary adjustments. According to Foot Locker, WSS will maintain its name and operate as a new brand within the Foot Locker Inc. portfolio. Additionally, Foot Locker announced the appointment of Anthony Aversa to COO of WSS, effective immediately. He will report to WSS SVP and GM Rick Mina, and in the role will oversee its market planning, real estate and customer experience functions. Prior to assuming this role, Aversa was the VP of customer experience of Foot Locker North America.
Sept. 21, 2021: Sergio Tacchini Europe Ltd. and Sugi International Ltd. have entered into a longterm footwear license agreement, which the companies confirmed will begin with the fall ’22 season. With this new deal, Sugi International Ltd. will distribute the Sergio Tacchini-branded footwear to retailers throughout Europe, Russia, North Africa and the Middle East. Sergio Tacchini said in a statement that the partnership will allow it “to significantly upgrade the quality and breadth of its footwear, while expanding distribution both in terms of territory and customer base.”
Sept. 20, 2021: Futures Factory, a European digital marketplace for sneaker NFTs, has raised $2.5 million in a funding round led by Seedcamp, Stride, Kima Ventures, RTP Global, and more. The startup offers users the chance to sell virtual sneakers that can be used in gaming and augmented reality. The sneaker NFTs can also be converted into tangible pairs.
Sept. 9, 2021: Industry-leading outsole manufacturer Vibram announced it has entered into a 12-month partnership with climbing gym company Brooklyn Boulders, which will begin at an unspecified date this year. According to Vibram, the two companies will work together on product development, innovations and previews, which will allow for the sole company “to delve deeper into the product needs of the climbing community.” What’s more, Vibram and Brooklyn Boulders will deliver on co-hosted events throughout the year.
“Today’s announcement reinforces our continued commitment to serving consumers, athletes and passionate climbers through authentic relationships and the delivery of innovative products. It is this commitment that delivers confidence in every step,” Vibram Corporation global chief brand officer and president Fabrizio Gamberini said in a statement. “We have spent a great deal of time focusing our product design processes on the end user and really getting to understand what they need from their Vibram soles, whatever the use may be. This partnership with Brooklyn Boulders will be instrumental in Vibram building even stronger relationships with the climbing community and understanding their footwear needs.”
August 25, 2021: Trove, the company that powers resale for Lululemon, Patagonia, REI, Nordstrom and more, has closed a $77.5 million Series D funding round. The round, led by G2 Venture Partners, brings the company’s total funding to $122.5 million. The funding will be used to expand Trove’s brand partner roster, improve infrastructure and technology, and help the company enter the luxury resale market.
July 22, 2021: Sequential Brands Group revealed that it divested its 65% interest in DVS Footwear International LLC to Elan Polo International Inc. for $2 million. Sequential — which is evaluating strategic alternatives and could be considering bankruptcy — sold the Heely’s brand to BBC International in April for $11 million.
July 16, 2021: Aerosoles has launched a distribution partnership with American Exchange Group. Together the two companies will collaborate on the design, branding and strategy for a new Aerosoles collection targeted to the mass and off-price channels. The line is slated to launch for spring ’22. “This partnership marks an exciting new chapter in the evolution of Aerosoles as we harmonize a modern, elevated core with broader commercial opportunities in distribution,” said Aerosoles CEO Alison Bergen in a statement. “We do so with a continued unwillingness to compromise on brand vision and quality control.” This partnership is the first of its kind for Aerosoles. AX Group has in the past created footwear for other labels including Adrienne Vittadini, Alexis Bendel, Marc Ecko and Mudd.
July 1, 2021: JD Sports Fashion Plc announced that it has completed the sale of Netherlands-based Sports Unlimited Retail BV, which operates under the Aktiesport and Perry Sport retail banners, to its Spain-based subsidiary Iberian Sports Retail Group SL. The terms of the transaction, according to JD, remain as outlined in the announcement made on June 3, which stated consideration of €16.5m (approximately $19.6 million) is expected to be payable on completion that ISRG will fund from existing cash balances and resources.
June 24, 2021: To further solidify its commitment to trail running, Saucony has signed ultrarunner Katie Asmuth to its ambassador roster. The athlete, who is a mother of two and a nurse practitioner, most recently won the 2021 Bandera 100K in Texas. With the win, she earned a spot to run in the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, which starts June 26 in California.
“Katie has been an ultrarunning legend in the making and we’re excited and honored that she is joining the Saucony family,” Saucony president Anne Cavassa said in a statement. “She didn’t let a hard fall and a broken nose stop her from winning the rugged Bandera 100K, showing her natural true grit. She’s now set her sights on Western States, the world’s premier ultrarunning event. Besides the endurance needed to run the distance, Western States takes patience, planning and perspective; as a mom and healthcare worker, she brings it all to the challenge. Katie surely embodies Saucony’s ‘Dirt Power’ goodness, running with joy and gratitude and sharing her uplifting spirit with the entire trail community.”
June 22, 2021: Puma has signed hockey star Leon Draisaitl to a long-term agreement, making him the first NHL player to join the brand as an ambassador. The German-born athlete and member of the Edmonton Oilers, according to Puma, will support its training and lifestyle product efforts, which includes wearing the brand’s Fuse training shoes and Cloudspun apparel. “Leon is a is a global star in one of the fastest and toughest sports,” Puma CEO Bjørn Gulden said in a statement. “His performance, attitude and personality make him a perfect fit for Puma.”
June 21, 2021: Community-based sneaker startup SoleSavy announced it has raised $12.5 million in Series A funding, led by Bedrock Capital. Other investors of note include Jason Calacanis’ startup investment firm Launch, Origin Ventures, Panache Ventures, Bessemer Ventures, venture capital firm Banana Capital, Dapper Labs CEO Roham Gharegozlou, Shopify president Harley Finkelstein and Diplo.
Looking ahead, SoleSavy stated it will expand its offerings in the fall, which will include a peer-to-peer member marketplace created to change how members interact and purchase sneakers, and further invest in community-led content and experiences such as the SoleSavy podcast network, editorial features, original video and more. Also, the company will expand its footprint into new markets including Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Singapore, Japan, Mexico and Europe.
“SoleSavy aims to solve the current challenges of the sneaker industry — one that has evolved from people enjoying their passion to being exploited for profit,” said SoleSavy CEO and co-founder Dejan Pralica said in a statement. “With explosive member growth that has translated into a highly engaged community, we’re clear on the problems that must be solved, and how we can help make sneakers better for all types of enthusiasts. This new round of investment will help accelerate our mission, as we invest more into technology, hire the best talent, and launch new products and services.”
With this round, SoleSavy confirmed that total funding to date is $14.5 million after an initial seed round of $2 million less than six months ago.
June 17, 2021: Muk Luks, owned by Reliable of Milwaukee, has inked a five-year licensing deal with Kathy Ireland Worldwide to make a collection of slippers, socks, headwear, shoes and accessories, which will be sold under the label Kathy Ireland for Muk Luks. Larry Childers, VP of team operations for kiWW, said in a statement, “Many companies were vying for this license, but after speaking with [CEO Mark Blutstein] and meeting the Reliable of Milwaukee team, we knew that this was the right partnership for our brand. Not only did the designs and design philosophy of the brand speak to us, but the entire Reliable team’s outlook on individual responsibility in bringing change to the human condition was moving and truly spoke volumes to us about the company.” As part of the deal, Ireland and her creative team will design the collection in partnership with Reliant of Milwaukee, which also will serve as the exclusive sales agent. The line is expected to be available for fall ’21.
June 17, 2021: San Antonio Shoemakers beat out two other bidders to secure a two-year, $25.4 million contract with the U.S. Department of Defense to produce men’s and women’s athletic footwear for new recruits in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. This follows a previous contract in 2017, through which SAS produced roughly 398,000 pairs of athletic shoes. Per the Berry Amendment, passed in 1941, the U.S. military is required to purchase domestically-produced and -sourced goods, but it wasn’t until 2017 that Congress closed a loophole that allowed sneaker manufacturers to land these lucrative assignments.
June 11, 2021: Iconix Brand Group has inked a deal to go private. The company, which has been trading under ICON on the Nasdaq, said it entered into an agreement to be acquired by Iconix Acquisition Corp., an affiliate of Lancer Capital LLC, in an all-cash transaction that values Iconix at approximately $585 million, including net debt. “Today’s announcement represents the culmination of a year-long examination by our Board of Directors of strategic alternatives for the Company,” said CEO Bob Galvin. “After a thorough and deliberative examination of all potential strategic alternatives, the board of directors determined that the transaction with Lancer provides the best value for our stockholders. We expect that Iconix will continue developing its brands and supporting its partners as a private company.”
June 9, 2021: North Carolina-based sock manufacturer Renfro Brands is now under new ownership. The company, which produces legwear for Fruit of the Loom, Dr. Scholl’s, Merrell, Smartwool, Hotsox and K.Bell, has entered a deal with The Renco Group Inc., a New York-based private holding company. “We actively pursued Renfro Brands as they are the clear leader within their category and are poised for continued growth,” said Ari Rennert, president of The Renco Group, which has indicated it aims to build value over time by retaining earnings and reinvesting in the business. For their part, the existing Renfro leadership team has been tasked with focusing on consumer connectivity, operational agility and brand management going forward.
June 3, 2021: CVC has announced the completion of an investment in A Bathing Ape. According to a statement from the private equity firm, the move has allowed it to acquire co-control of the streetwear brand, which recently became an independent company following its split from I.T Limited. It did not disclose the financial terms of the deal but shared that it plans to support the label’s expansion both online and in international regions, such as China, Europe and the United States. “BAPE is an iconic brand with a loyal fan base that has defined the fashion industry with its premium streetwear design,” CVC director Yann Jiang said in a statement. “We are looking forward to bringing this exciting brand to more markets and new customers around the world.”
May 19, 2021: Soccer star Raheem Sterling, who plays for both the England national team and the Premier League club Manchester City, is now a New Balance athlete. The new relationship, according to New Balance, will extend beyond the pitch, as Sterling will work with the brand across both performance and lifestyle products. Additionally, the brand confirmed that it will help support Sterling’s philanthropic efforts. He is also the face of the brand’s “Done Just Talking” campaign, which was created with the help of mentoring charity ReachOut UK and shot by a production crew made up predominately of local teenagers. The spot is part of New Balance’s “We Got Now” global brand statement.
May 13, 2021: Miami Heat baller Jimmy Butler has signed a multiyear partnership with Rhone. The performance and lifestyle apparel company confirmed that Butler will help it launch a new vertical, develop forward-thinking product collaborations and appear in its summer ’21 campaign. Rhone said the NBA star will also help with the brand’s “Forever Forward” mission by leading community outreach programs, which will include a summer basketball clinic for underprivileged youth. Butler’s ability to build a strong sense of community will also play out by helping shape the voice of Rhone’s social channels and “The Pursuit” content platform.
May 13, 2021: Ralph Lauren has sold the Club Monaco brand to private equity firm Regent LP. The transaction, whose financial details were not disclosed, is expected to close by the end of June. The sale is part of the strategic realignment plan announced last year by Ralph Lauren, which also transitioned the Chaps brand to a fully licensed business model. “As we increase our focus on our core namesake brands, we want to ensure the Club Monaco brand is also well positioned for long-term success,” president and CEO Patrice Louvet said in a statement. “We are confident that Regent is the right home for Club Monaco to realize its full potential.”
May 10, 2021: Ralph Lauren has inked a deal with Major League Baseball to create a series of collections inspired by the league’s most iconic teams. The first capsules, which go on sale today at Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and MLB and Ralph Lauren stores, pay homage to the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals. Later collections for fall and holiday will incorporate more teams, including the Boston Red Sox. In addition to creating lifestyle apparel and accessories products that honor America’s favorite pastime, Ralph Lauren also will launch a marketing campaign that nods to classic baseball trading cards, and the brand’s Airstream trailer will go on a cross-country tour to select cities, offering baseball-themed food and beverages. Ralph Lauren already has an extensive roster of licensing partnerships with Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and Australian Open, the PGA Championships and more. He also has outfitted the U.S. Olympic team since 2008.
May 7, 2021: Authentic Brands Group LLC and SPARC Group LLC announced that it would acquire Eddie Bauer from the Golden Gate Capital-owned PSEB Group. ABG will own the outdoor brand’s intellectual property, and its core operating business will become part of the SPARC portfolio. The transaction is expected to close by June 1. “The addition of Eddie Bauer introduces a new and highly differentiated expertise to the SPARC organization,” SPARC CEO Marc Miller said in a statement. “The brand pushes the boundaries of technical innovation and performance with award-winning outdoor product offerings, bringing an entirely new component to our fashion and lifestyle brand portfolio.” International growth will be an important part of Eddie Bauer’s new brand strategy, with near-term launches in China and Korea as well as opportunities in the Latin America, Europe and Asia-Pacific regions.
April 28, 2021: VF Corp. said it is selling the occupational portion of its Work segment to a subsidiary of Redwood Capital Investments, LLC, a diversified holding company. The group of brands includes Red Kap, VF Solutions, Bulwark, Workrite, Walls, Terra, Kodiak, Work Authority and Horace Small. (The sale does not involve the Dickies and Timberland Pro brands.) “The sale of our occupational work brands reflects our continued focus on transforming VF into a more consumer-minded and retail-centric enterprise while further simplifying our portfolio and operating model. We are pleased to have reached this agreement with Redwood Capital Investments. They are an ideal owner to guide these brands and businesses into their next phase of growth,” said Steve Rendle, VF’s president and CEO. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
April 15, 2021: Nobull has secured an equity partner. Exeter Capital, a consumer-focused private equity firm based in Boston, announced that it has partnered with the athletic brand. In a statement, the firm said the transaction will support Nobull’s global growth strategy. “Exeter proactively pursued an investment in Nobull because of its authentic and differentiated brand,” Exeter Capital founding team member and managing director Steven Collins said in a statement. “We are excited to partner with [Nobull co-founders] Marcus [Wilson] and Michael [Schaeffer] to help them further accelerate Nobull’s growth as the brand continues to expand beyond footwear and push into additional sports.” Additionally, Exeter Capital stated Collins will join the Nobull board of directors and Julia Adam, founding team member and principal at the firm, will become a board observer.
March 18, 2021: Paul Stuart is now available at Nordstrom. The footwear brand has expanded its retail footprint with a full-range collection of shoes that are made in Italy. Several spring ’21 styles are available to purchase both in-store and at Nordstrom.com. Starting at $250, you can shop a range of shoe styles at the department store retailer, with more silhouettes expected to come later in the week. Additionally, you can find Paul Stuart’s latest collection at the brand’s various store locations as well as at Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.
March 12, 2021: JD Sports Fashion Plc has entered into a conditional agreement to acquire 60% of Poland-based Marketing Investment Group S.A. The company, according to a statement, operates 410 retail stores and websites that sell sports fashion footwear, apparel and accessories in nine countries in Central and Eastern Europe. In the year January 31, 2020, JD said MIG generated roughly 200 million pounds in revenues (approximately $278 million).
JD said the completion of the acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions, including approval by the competition authorities in Poland, and the completion of the acquisition is anticipated to be completed before the end of May 2021. Also, JD confirmed that put and call options have been agreed to, which could allow for future exit opportunities for MIG, with whom JD will work in partnership.
“This is an exciting acquisition for JD that will further build on the success of our international development strategy, expanding our operations into Central and Eastern Europe. We have observed and admired the development of MIG over a number of years and we are confident that the combination of their highly experienced and knowledgeable management team, together with the expertise of the JD leadership team, will provide the Group with strong foundations from which to successfully optimize the opportunities in the region,” JD Sports Fashion Plc executive chairman Peter Cowgill said in a statement.
March 4, 2021: CrossFit announced today that it has entered a multiyear partnership with digital fitness company Whoop, which will become the official wearable of the organization. According to CrossFit, this partnership will help athletes benefit from the training, sleep and recovery data that Whoop provides, and the organization will share the data of its top performers via broadcast programming and other digital and on-site channels. Additionally, there will be several health and fitness co-branded events over the course of the partnership, and CrossFit will integrate Whoop insights into the educational component of the sport, such as sleep and recovery content for new members as well as top trainers.
March 1, 2021: New Balance has added yet another beloved athlete to its ambassador in tennis star Eugenie “Genie” Bouchard, who signed a multiyear sponsorship deal. “Having Genie join the New Balance Family will help us to further accelerate our presence in the global tennis category. Additionally, her off-court interests will allow us to build on the significant momentum that the New Balance brand has in the lifestyle space,” New Balance global director of consumer brand marketing and athlete activation Pat Cassidy said in a statement. “We look forward to working closely with Genie in the coming years to support her efforts on and off the tennis court.”
Feb. 22, 2021: Puma has made another key addition to its ambassador roster. The German athletic giant announced today that it has partnered with fitness and lifestyle entrepreneur Bethany Meyers, who is also a renowned LGBTQIA+ advocate. The brand stated Meyers will be featured in its studio collection campaigns and activations to help share its body positive and self-love messaging. Additionally, Puma said Meyers will involved in its Reform platform, specifically focusing on the LGBTQIA+ Rights pillar, focusing on the removal of barriers that keep people from participating in sports and the culture of sport.
Feb. 16, 2021: New Balance announced that it will become the kit supplier for soccer club AS Roma starting with the 2021-22 season. According to the athletic brand, the club is the first in Serie A to wear New Balance apparel. Aside from a company statement, both New Balance and AS Roma confirmed the deal through an augmented reality filter game for Instagram that allowed fans to virtually experience the streets of Rome, at the same time discovering the New Balance sponsorship.
Feb. 16, 2021: The Professional Pickleball Association announced today that it has entered retail partnership with both Fila Pickleball and Fromuth Racquet Sports, with both becoming exclusive providers for the Pro Tour in 2021. Fila Pickleball, according to a statement, will become the official athletic apparel and footwear supplier of the tour, and Fromuth will launch a new web store for the Professional Pickleball Association (Thedinkpickleball.com).
“The PPA and Fromuth Racquet Sports share our commitment to growing the sport of pickleball,” Fila North America president Jennifer Estabrook said in a statement. “Through this partnership, we see an incredible opportunity to expand our footprint in the sport, and bring our specially-designed product offerings to pickleball players of all ages, levels, and abilities across the country.”
Feb. 4, 2021: California-based textile and tech company FutureStitch Inc. has signed a multiyear licensing and manufacturing deal with Toms. As part of the agreement, the two firms will design, develop, manufacture, market and distribute a state-of-the-art line of socks. “Our partnership demonstrates FutureStitch’s commitment to working with brands that share our values and guide today’s ideas into tomorrow’s technologies with scalable solutions at every stage of the product development cycle,” said FutureStitch co-founder and CEO Taylor Shupe. Toms CEO Magnus Wedhammar added that the partnership “enables us to leverage the power of FutureStitch’s product design capabilities and highest level of advanced manufacturing to build highly customized products to complement our unique shoe collection.”
Feb. 4, 2021: Camden Media Inc. has agreed to terms with SCL Footwear Group to produce men’s, women’s and children’s footwear for its Outdoor Life subsidiary. As part of the deal, SCL will create shoes across multiple categories, including hiking and trail boots as well as casual footwear and slippers, which are expected to launch in the U.S. and Canada — with distribution to mass, specialty, off-price and e-commerce channels — in the fall. “SCL Footwear Group is a premier manufacturer who appreciates the appeal and trust of the Outdoor Life brand,” said Camden Media head of licensing Richard Oren. “We’re excited to have found a partner who can help us continue to expand the brand and leverage the growing enthusiasm toward outdoor activities.”
Feb. 2, 2021: European comfort brand Tamaris, owned by German footwear company Wortmann Group, has partnered with Waltham, Mass.-based Earth Inc. to reintroduce the line in North America, starting with the fall ’21 collection. “Tamaris should be an instant win in the North American marketplace offering incredible value, design and built-in comfort with a fashion twist,” said SVP Lance DeShazo, who will lead the North American team. The brand debuted to buyers this week as part of the Micam Americas Digital event and will show by appointment at the Magic Orlando pop-up and Atlanta Shoe Market. It is targeting independent retailers, better department stores and full-price websites. Tamaris will also launch a dedicated U.S. e-commerce site in August.
Feb. 1, 2021: Wolverine World Wide Inc. announced that it has signed a new deal making Gardiners Footwear Specialists the sole distributor for Sperry products in the U.K. This follows a three-year partnership with Zone Two Limited. Andy Hewat, senior brand director for the Sperry and Keds labels, said the move is part of Wolverine’s effort to accelerate digital growth across its portfolio. “Gardiners’ market expertise and knowledge paired with their strong independent salesforce will allow us to amplify the Sperry brand in an important international market and increase traffic to our Sperry UK eCommerce channel.” In addition to Sperry, Gardiners distributes dozens of other footwear brands, with a particular expertise in workwear.
Jan. 25, 2021: Rocky Brands Inc., best known for its rugged work and military boots, has added a new portfolio of labels to its roster. The Nelsonville, Ohio-based company — parent to Rocky, Georgia Boot and Durango — announced it will acquire the performance and lifestyle footwear business from Honeywell International Inc. for $230 million in cash and debt. The purchase includes The Original Muck Boot Company, as well as the Xtratuf, Servus, Neos and Ranger boot brands.