Acquisitions, Licensing, Distribution News in 1H 2022 – Footwear News
Catch all the latest news about footwear industry acquisitions, and licensing and distribution agreements here. Got a deal in the works? Tell us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 19, 2022: Authentic Brands Group has announced that LF Corp. will be its strategic partner to distribute and sell the Reebok brand in South Korea. Via the deal, LF Corp. will have exclusive rights to distribute Reebok clothes and footwear via wholesale, e-commerce and Reebok retail stores in South Korea. “Reebok has a celebrated heritage, and we are excited to bring those elements to our consumers in an authentic and meaningful way,” said Soung Kim, GM and head of Reebok division at LF. “With more than 40 years of experience in the fashion industry, we are poised to expand Reebok’s presence across the region.”
April 18, 2022: OluKai, which is best known for its flip flop sandals, has launched its first sports performance line with the introduction of a range of men’s and women’s golf shoes. The Hawaiian-inspired footwear company’s new golf line includes four different performance shoes made for golf, two for him and two for her. According to OluKai, each style was created with the Wet Sand Principle, a comfort design philosophy that your shoes should mimic the feeling of walking in wet stand. Each shoe features removable/washable dual density polyurethane footbeds as well as wet-grip rubber spikeless outsoles with multidirectional traction. The four golf styles also feature the brand’s signature Drop-In Heel designed for easy on/off functionality. The collection, which retails between $150 and $160, is now available at Olukai.com.
April 14, 2022: The NBA and Foot Locker Europe today announced a multiyear expansion to their partnership. Via the deal, both entities will refurbish basketball courts in Paris and Rotterdam and host fan events and basketball clinics across Europe. Foot Locker will also partner with the NBA for its 3-on-3 basketball tournament in Barcelona and London this summer. “As part of our commitment to inspire and empower youth, basketball continues to be a key pillar for our brand for what it represents: community, inclusivity, hope and empowerment,” said president of Foot Locker EMEA Susie Kuhn.
April 13, 2022: Gordon Brothers is teaming up with IMG to expand its Laura Ashley brand in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, China, India, and the Middle East. The multi-year partnership with IMG will create new Laura Ashley apparel, footwear, accessories, beauty, homeware items, and hospitality offerings through carefully selected licensing and retail partnerships and collaborations. “We are delighted to partner with IMG to continue to expand Laura Ashley following the success of its spring homeware collection and fall fashion collaboration last year,” said Tobias Nanda, president of brands at Gordon Brothers. “Our focus in working with IMG will be to select additional strategic partnerships and collaborations to help bring the brand’s distinct aesthetic to consumers globally while continuing to develop our current brand partnerships.” After acquiring the Laura Ashley brand, archives, and related intellectual property and announcing a partnership with Next plc in 2020, Gordon Brothers relaunched Laura Ashley’s homeware collection online and in select Next stores. The company also debut a fall fashion collaboration with Batsheva in 2021 while developing brand partnerships in Korea, Japan, and the U.S.
April 8, 2022: The NPD Group has inked a new agreement to merge with Information Resources, Inc. (IRI). To close the deal private equity firm Hellman & Friedman (H&F) will acquire a majority stake in IRI and merge IRI with H&F portfolio company NPD. H&F will lead an ownership group consisting of existing long-term IRI investors Vestar Capital Partners and New Mountain Capital, which will both retain significant investments in the combined company. Following the close of the transaction, H&F, Vestar and NMC will each have representation on the combined company’s board of directors. Kirk Perry will become CEO of the combined company and serve on the board. NPD executive chairman Tod Johnson will be chairman of the combined company’s board, and Karyn Schoenbart also will join the board. Jeff Ansell, current chairman of IRI’s board, will continue on the combined company’s board as well. Johnson and Schoenbart will continue to lead NPD until closing and will remain investors in the combined company. The transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions, is expected to close in the second half of 2022. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
March 29, 2022: Frye is getting into resale with a new partnership with Recurate. The new peer-to-peer online resale service launches Tuesday and resides on the brand’s website where shoppers can find a range of recent and evergreen styles. Called “The Frye Exchange,” the service will allow Frye customers will also be able to sell their own pre-loved Frye products. Frye shoppers typically get up to 60% off of the original retail price, while sellers receive 100% of the profits from each sale in the form of an electronic gift card to spend on the site. “Sellers and purchasers alike can feel good about keeping items in circulation longer and out of landfills, just by listing or buying from The Frye Exchange,” said Lauren Salzinger, vice president and general manager at Frye. “We hope to bring beloved Frye products to a new audience of consumers while giving our current customers a chance to find a new life for the styles they no longer wear.”
March 28, 2022: Unlimited Footwear Group (UFG) has inked a new strategic licensing partnership with Gap Inc. to design, produce, and distribute Gap branded footwear throughout the entire European Union, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and Scandinavia, in a deal brokered by IMG. In partnership with Gap Inc., UFG’s The Heritage Footwear Company division in Utrecht, part of Unlimited Footwear Group, will manage the Gap footwear collections. The Heritage Footwear Company plans to launch two collections a year at a mid-price level and will distribute through its international sales network of both multi-brand fashion and sports retail and through wholesale and various online platforms. The first Gap footwear collection by UFG for men, women, and kids is scheduled to launch in spring/summer 2023.
March 22, 2022: Canada Goose has entered into an agreement with its longstanding partner Sazaby League Ltd. to create a new joint venture. Called “Canada Goose Japan,” the joint venture plans to accelerate DTC expansion, including retail stores. This agreement will replace an exclusive national distributor arrangement between Sazaby League and Canada Goose. Commencing in April, existing distribution will be assumed by the joint venture, of which each partner will own 50%. Current distribution includes a permanent Canada Goose retail store in Tokyo, a national e-commerce site, as well as wholesale points of distribution across the country. The new operating model is expected to significantly increase revenue and gross profit per unit from the existing business. Canada Goose Japan is also expected to generate C$60 million to C$65 million (which is approximately $47.6 million USD to $51.6 million USD based on current exchange rate) in total revenue in fiscal 2023, which is roughly double the contribution from this market in fiscal 2022.
March 15, 2022: Vestiaire Collective has acquired fellow fashion resale site Tradesy. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. According to Vestiaire Collective, joining forces with Tradesy significantly increases the size and reach of each respective peer-to-peer marketplace. The combined company will boast a membership community of 23 million, a catalog of 5 million items and a Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) exceeding $1 billion. And in order to better serve its expanded customer base and continue to position trust at the core of its business model, Vestiaire Collective said it will open a new authentication center in the Los Angeles area (its fifth authentication center globally, and second in the U.S.). As for leadership, Vestiaire Collective CEO Maximilian Bittner and Fanny Moizant, founder and president of Vestiaire Collective, will continue to serve in those roles for the combined company. Tracy DiNunzio, founder and CEO of Tradesy, will become CEO of the combined U.S. operations. Vestiaire Collective noted it will “progressively merge” its team with Tradesy’s team “to allow sharing of best practices and support accelerated growth in the U.S. market.”
March 10, 2022: Adidas has inked a new deal with the Italian Football Federation to outfit its national teams for four years, starting in 2023. The deal is worth about around 35 million euros (or $38.5 million) each year, according to Reuters. With the new deal, Adidas replaces Puma and the official partner of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC). “We are incredibly proud to announce this long-term partnership with the Italian Football Federation,” said Adidas CEO Kasper Rørsted in a statement.
March 9, 2022: Authentic Brands Group (ABG) has inked a new with Canadian retailer SportChek to sell Reebok apparel and footwear across 300 of its corporate-owned stores and websites. The long-term, non-exclusive agreement will include the SportChek and Sports Experts banners and will roll out in fall of 2022. “We are thrilled to expand Reebok’s footprint at SportChek,” said ABG CMO and president Nick Woodhouse. “As a native Canadian I am personally acquainted with Canada’s vast retail landscape and there is no question that SportChek is the quintessential destination in the region for consumers seeking active and lifestyle brands. This partnership further cements Reebok’s presence in this very important and active market.”
March 8, 2022: Ba&sh has a new owner. On Tuesday, private equity firm L Catterton said it has sold its majority stake in the women’s brand and retailer to HLD, an investment group specializing in the support and development of European companies. Terms of the transaction are not disclosed. Since L Catterton’s investment in 2015, and the recruitment of Pierre-Arnaud Grenade as CEO, Ba&sh has undergone a significant transformation, with revenues multiplied by seven to reach over €320 million in 2022. This rapid growth has been enabled by a global expansion strategy, with more than 55% of sales now made outside France. Additionally, Ba&sh has implemented an omnichannel model with the opening of more than 200 points of sale since 2015 to reach a total of 300 at the beginning of 2022, and the development of its online offering which is now accounting for nearly 30% of the group’s revenues. At the same time, Ba&sh has successfully enriched its product range and expanded into accessories, from sneakers to jewelry and leather goods.
Feb. 28, 2022: Authentic Brands Group (ABG) has closed its deal to acquire Reebok from Adidas, the German sportswear brand announced on Tuesday. During a transitionary period, Adidas will continue to operate Reebok in certain markets until ABG takes over all regions. Adidas, which confirmed that is has received the majority of the €2.1 billion, or about $2.5 billion at current exchange, from ABG, said it will launch a share buyback program to return the cash from the deal to shareholders.
Feb. 28, 2022: Online sneaker subscription platform Kyx World announced today that it has raised $3 million in its latest fundraising round. The company confirmed it is valued at $16 million. The round was led by sports tech venture capital company SeventySix Capital, Kyx World said via statement, with additional support coming from Rachel Zoe Ventures and Crush Ventures. Also, further investment came from several pro athletes and celebrities, including NBA All-Star DeMar DeRozan, Super Bowl champion wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, DJ Skee, NTWRK president Moksha Fitzgibbons and others. Kyx World, which was founded by Brian Mupo (who also serves as CEO) and Steve Dorfman (the company’s COO), was created to offer sought-after sneakers and launched in June 2021.
Feb. 24, 2022: Skechers USA Inc. has inked a multi-year deal to serve as the official footwear sponsor of the US Open Pickleball Championships. As part of the partnership, Skechers will outfit the volunteer captains at the next event, to be held April 23-30 in Naples, Fla. The athletic company also will be onsite at the tournament, hosting an expo booth where fans and competitors can experience its range of footwear, particularly Skechers’ first on-court sneaker made especially for pickleball. The Viper Court, which launches in May, is priced at $90 and features a breathable, lightweight design. Its Goodyear rubber outsole offers pickleball players essential grip and stability, while a shock-absorbing Arch Fit insole provides comfort and support. The shoe will be available for purchase at the tournament, as well as at Skechers.com and at select branded stores and retail partners.
Feb. 23, 2022: Authentic Brands Group (ABG) has inked a deal with New Guards Group to make it the operating partner for Reebok across Europe. New Guards, which is owned by Farfetch Limited, will oversee Reebok’s retail stores, e-commerce operations and wholesale business in Europe. New Guards will also have the opportunity to oversee market-specific luxury collaborations with Reebok. “We are thrilled to partner with New Guards on Reebok’s European distribution and add their expertise in luxury to Reebok,” said Jamie Salter, founder, Chairman and CEO of ABG. “As an industry powerhouse, New Guards is a respected authority in fashion and luxury with impressive global technology distribution capabilities. Together, we will elevate Reebok’s legacy of product innovation, introducing game-changing collaborations and distributing premium products to consumers in key markets across the globe.”
Feb. 23, 2022: Brunt Workwear announced today it has garnered $20 million in its series B fundraising round. The direct-to-consumer brand, which launched in fall 2020 amid the height of the pandemic, has grown quickly thanks to its focus on the booming work category. After launching with four boots, Brunt now offers nearly a dozen work footwear styles, as well as apparel and accessories. The company reported it exceeded its 2021 sales forecasts by 80%, fueled by a 119% surge between the first and second half of the year. For 2022, it predicts year-over-year growth of 200%. Brunt’s series B was led by private equity firm Stripes, which has also invested in On Running and Monday.com. Returning investors included TF Cornerstone, Bolt and others.
Feb. 18, 2022: Fanatics, along with other investors including Jay-Z, Maverick Carter, Meek Mill, the D’Amelio Family, and Lil Baby, have acquired Mitchell & Ness from Juggernaut Capital Partners. The lifestyle brand is a purveyor of authentic sports jerseys and licensed product and has deals with the NBA, NFL, MLB, and MLS. The strategic investment group will own about 25% of the company and the company will function independently under Fanatics. “Mitchell & Ness is an iconic brand and a pioneer within our industry. I’m incredibly excited for Fanatics to partner with this incredible group of innovative owners to build upon the company’s already strong business that has kept the brand culturally relevant for more than 100 years,” said Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin.
Feb. 18, 2022: Wolverine has signed a licensing partnership with apparel manufacturer Walt USA to create a line of Wolverine-branded innerwear and base layer products targeted to workers and outdoor enthusiasts. Set to launch in fall ’22, the men’s apparel collection will boast performance features such as antibacterial treatments, quick-dry materials, breathable mesh panels, tag-less labels, stay-tucked shirt lengths and stay-in-shape neck bands. Items will retail for $25-$45 at work and outdoor specialty stores, as well as department stores and Wolverine.com.
Feb. 17, 2022: Allbirds today announced the launch of Allbirds ReRun, a new resale platform powered by resale technology provider Trove. The new program will launch with outposts in three Allbirds stores, giving customers the ability to trade in their pre-owned Allbirds for $20 in store credit with a plan is to eventually expand the program to more stores. Via the new platform, Allbirds will also sell used shoes at lower price points, starting at $59. “To create a more sustainable fashion economy, it’s crucial that we take a holistic approach,” said Hana Kajimura, head of sustainability at Allbirds. “By launching our trade-in program, ReRun, we will enable our customers to play an integral role in extending the life of our shoes.”
Feb. 16, 2022: Rebecca Minkoff has new owners, according to WWD. As first reported by FN’s sister publication, the New York-based accessories and lifestyle brand has been sold to Sunrise Brands, which is headed by chairman and founder Gerard Guez. According to WWD sources, the asset sale was between $13 million and $19 million. Rebecca Minkoff is expected to continue in her role as chief creative officer and Uri Minkoff, who has been CEO, is said to be transitioning into a senior adviser role with a focus on innovation, WWD reported. Sunrise Brands is a Los Angeles-based diversified apparel company whose labels include NYDJ, Diane Gilman, Joie, Equipment, Current/Elliott, Skinnygirl and Donald Pliner. The company also does private label and has done celebrity lines with Melissa McCarthy and Eva Longoria.
Feb. 8, 2022: Steve Madden has inked a new licensing agreement with Centric Brands to add jewelry and hair accessories categories to its mix. The licensing agreement with Steve Madden is the latest addition to Centric Brands’ portfolio in the jewelry and accessories categories and continues the relationship between the companies. Centric has been producing jewelry under Madden’s Betsey Johnson brand for the past 4 years. According to Centric, products will retail from $19 to $75 and will be available starting this month at Macy’s, Amazon, Zalando, Liverpool, and Steve Madden retail stores throughout the globe. Edward Rosenfeld, chairman and CEO of Steve Madden, said in a statement, “Centric has done an excellent job with the design and marketing of our Betsey Johnson jewelry collection, and we are thrilled to be expanding our partnership to include our flagship Steve Madden brand. We believe this partnership provides the ideal platform to expand the Steve Madden brand in the jewelry and hair accessories categories.”
Feb. 5, 2022: Rolling Stone, a subsidiary of Penske Media, has snapped up a majority interest in Life is Beautiful, the annual music, arts and ideas festival in Las Vegas. The event was founded in 2013 by the late Zappos luminary Tony Hsieh as part of his strategy to reinvent downtown Las Vegas. In 2021, the festival was anchored by Billie Eilish, Green Day, and Tame Impala and drew over 170,000 people. “Live events are an integral part of Rolling Stone’s future, and Life is Beautiful is an incredible platform to realize this vision. Coupled with our significant digital scale and deep journalism, there are infinite possibilities to grow Life is Beautiful in unique and impactful ways,” said Rolling Stone CEO Gus Wenner. Since its founding, the festival has brought in over $350 million to the city. “Tony understood that his ability to change people’s lives was magnified exponentially by his ability to bring smart, motivated, people-focused entrepreneurs together,” said Richard Hsieh, Tony’s father. “The Life Is Beautiful festival is one of the greatest manifestations of Tony’s desire to bring people together.”
Feb. 4, 2022: Foot Solutions has acquired Florida-based retailer Happy Feet Plus. The acquisition brings together two major retail forces in specialty footwear and the ~3.5 billion global orthotic insoles market. Details of the transaction were not announced. As part of the integration plan, Foot Solutions has promoted Taylor Berry to VP of operations and Bryan Scott to SVP of strategic growth. Among other duties, Scott will be responsible for the newly formed Innovation Group—a team tasked to differentiate the company through technology integration, training, and product R&D. Joining the Innovation Group will be representatives from both companies, including Bryan Dickler, Foot Solutions’ head of medical and training, as well as Happy Feet’s Alan Boiko who has agreed to lead the company’s product innovation efforts.
Feb. 3, 2022: Building on its existing commitment to the women in sport, Nike has made an equity investment in the WNBA. Via the new investment, Nike will partner with the WNBA to focus on storytelling for athletes and further the involvement for women in grassroots opportunities. The investment builds upon Nike’s existing commitments to the league, including a collection of new uniforms last year.
Jan. 31, 2022: LA Fashion Week (LAFW) is under new ownership and will return April 1. Now owned by event company N4XT Experiences, the local fashion week is aiming to elevate its shows and experience as Los Angeles cements itself in the world of fashion, according to a statement on announcing the acquisition. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. N4XT Experiences is a live events platform launched in 2022 by brand guru Ciarra Pardo, former chief creative officer of Fenty; Imad Izemrane, president and co-founder of Spring Place; entertainment industry veteran Marcus Ticotin; financial industry veteran Keith Abell; and Jackie Trebilcock, who has spent close to a decade building The NY Fashion Tech lab. LAFW’s fall/winter 2022 season kicks off in April at the Petersen Automotive Museum and at Spring Place Beverly Hills.
Jan. 13, 2022: Tecovas has secured $56 million in Series C funding, bringing the brand’s total lifetime equity funding to approximately $120 million. The Series C was led by Elephant, which also led Austin-based western footwear, apparel, and accessories brand’s Series A and Series B, and joined by new and existing investors, including Access Capital, Seamless Capital, and Kemmons Wilson Companies. “Our goal at Tecovas is to build the most welcoming brand in western,” said Paul Hedrick, founder and CEO of Tecovas. “This latest funding will allow us to scale our vision and welcome even more customers to the brand. We’ve seen rapid growth since Tecovas’ launch in 2015, and we plan to use the proceeds from this round of funding to continue on that trajectory, investing significantly in hiring, expanding our retail footprint, buying more inventory, and launching many new products.”
Big Deals in Dec. 2021
Dec. 30, 2021: American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) has completed the acquisition of Quiet Logistics and strategic investments for approximately $360 million in cash. Quiet Logistics, which operates a network of in-market fulfillment centers in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, St. Louis and Jacksonville, will be a wholly-owned AEO subsidiary and will continue to run its business independently. The network will support AEO’s continued growth, while also driving economies of scale as it expands its customer base to other brands and retailers seeking advanced logistics capabilities. The purchase solidifies operational efficiencies for AEO and creates a supply chain platform with significant long-term growth potential. “I am thrilled to officially welcome Quiet Logistics into the AEO Inc. portfolio, cementing a collaborative partnership that has meaningfully contributed to our financial results over the past 18 months,” said Jay Schottenstein, AEO’s executive chairman and CEO, in a statement. “AEO’s unique ability to reduce delivery costs amid rising inflation is a direct reflection of the efficiencies provided by their innovative fulfillment model. Quiet Logistics has a highly experienced supply chain leadership team and I look forward to their partnership as we continue to drive operational excellence and grow the platform into a meaningful business.”
Dec. 14, 2021: Genesco Inc., which owns Journeys, Journeys Kidz, Little Burgundy and Johnston & Murphy has signed a new licensing agreement with running brand Etonic. Under the three year agreement, Genesco will be the brand’s exclusive U.S. and Canadian footwear licensee. The agreement also includes two three-year options for renewal. “Along with our current roster of domestic and international licensees, we continue our work to build the Etonic brand and return it to its rightful place among the best athletic companies in the world,” said Bruce Weisfeld, partner at Etonic Holdings LLC. We are confident that Genesco will honor the Etonic tradition of ‘firsts’ by bringing new product to market through its extensive retail and wholesale platforms.”
Dec. 14, 2021: Prince, a leading tennis and lifestyle brand has inked a partnership with Pajar Canada to design, manufacture, and distribute footwear and outerwear for the brand. Prince is owned by Authentic Brands Group, the brand marketing firm that also owns Forever 21, JCPenney and Reebok. Via the partnership with Pajar Canada, Prince will expand into the footwear category with a new collection of shoes meant to be worn off the court. “Pajar Canada is a highly trusted footwear operator, which brings generations of expertise to this important category for the Prince brand,” said Taryn Washenik, Senior Vice President, Fashion, Classics and Outdoor at ABG. “This new partnership will help to further build out Prince’s lifestyle offerings and presents an opportunity to capture the attention of a new set of fashion tastemakers.”
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