By Eric Smith
The last full month of summer was again quiet on the M&A front, with only a handful of notable deals in the sporting goods, outdoor and active lifestyle industries.
But August did get off to a strong start when Implus announced the company would acquire Pro Performance Sports LLC, dba SKLZ, a provider of multi-sport athletic performance and skill development training products. Terms were not disclosed.
Adding SKLZ to Implus’ portfolio propels the Durham, NC-based company into the sporting goods category and further expands the company’s fitness division. In conjunction with the transaction, Implus will add a new satellite office in Carlsbad, CA, to support growth into the new category of business.
“The addition of SKLZ to the Implus portfolio adds a top-level product offering and opens up new channels as we develop our position in the sporting goods accessories market,” said Seth Richards, CEO of Implus. “We are excited for the potential growth opportunities in providing their innovative training solutions to our retail partners.”
“We’re very proud of the quality and authenticity of the brand and products our team has created over the past few years,” said Tim Wiseman, CEO of SKLZ. “We think Implus is the perfect partner to build on that base and take this brand to the next level.”
SKLZ will operate as a division of Implus, which is majority owned by Berkshire Partners, a Boston-based investment firm. SKLZ represents the eighth acquisition for Implus since Berkshire’s investment in the company in April 2015.
Look for more about the acquisition and where Implus is heading in an upcoming SGB Q&A.
Here are some details about other noteworthy M&A activity from August, including a pair of deals involving private equity firms:
The 411 – Charlesbank Capital Partners announced that the group acquired the assets of The Rockport Group in bankruptcy proceedings. Affiliates of Charlesbank, in partnership with management, acquired substantially all the assets of the company, including the North American wholesale and e-commerce operations, all of Rockport’s international operations and retail stores and the Aravon and Dunham brands.
Reaction – “This is an exciting day for Rockport. After significant hard work from the Rockport team, we emerge as a better company with a solid capital base, ready to capitalize on the potential for growth in both men’s and women’s footwear and to build on Rockport’s excellent brand awareness, diverse product line and strong legacy. I am fully confident that, together, we are on the path to a stronger future.”
—Gregg Ribatt, Rockport’s newly appointed CEO
What’s next? – Ribatt—whose deep industry experience includes leading companies like Crocs, Collective Brands Performance & Lifestyle Group (Sperry-Top Sider, Saucony, Keds and Stride Rite) and Stuart Weitzman—brings stability to a company that has undergone much turmoil in recent months. “Now, with its more rational capital structure, the company is well-positioned both financially and competitively to take advantage of these market opportunities and achieve its true growth potential,” said Josh Klevens of Charlesbank.
The 411 – Blue Point Capital Partners has acquired and recapitalized Gardena, CA-based clothing company Next Level Apparel Inc. Next Level was founded in 2003. Its products are sold blank to promotional product, ad specialty and other decorated apparel markets. Core products include T-shirt, tank tops, hoodies and jackets.
Reaction – “Next Level is an established platform operating in the rapidly growing fashion basics category with significant avenues for future growth. The company’s leading position, strong relationships and brand reputation with the major distributors and decorators make this a great opportunity for Blue Point to be a value-added partner and help facilitate the company’s continued growth.”
—Jeff Robich, principal, Blue Point
What’s next? – Clues about what’s next can be found in Blue Point’s portfolio; the firm has been an active buyer of companies in the apparel space, having acquired Top of the World LLC in 2017, a headwear company in Oklahoma, and Michigan apparel designer and distributor J. America Inc. in 2016. “Blue Point knows the apparel sector extremely well, and we are excited for what is to come in our partnership,” said Joe Simsoly, founder and CEO of Next Level. “Blue Point’s strategic approach and resources will help further develop and diversify our ability to provide quality, fashionable apparel to our customers.”
The 411 – Camping World Holdings Inc. announced that the company has signed an agreement to acquire Holiday Hour RV located in the greater DeKalb, IL, area. Holiday Hour RV will be Camping World’s second Illinois location, joining the SuperCenter in the Wauconda/Island Lake area that focuses on RV sales, service and retail accessories.
Reaction – “Since 1972, Holiday Hour RV has established itself as a successful and well-known RV dealership in the state of Illinois. We are pleased to announce this acquisition and look forward to the continued expansion of our market share throughout the Chicagoland area.”
—Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO, Camping World Holdings
What’s next? – Camping World recently announced the planned expansion of the company’s RV sales locations by more than 30 percent through the launch of Gander RV Sales, new store openings and continued acquisitions. The acquisition of Holiday Hour RV is in line with the company’s future growth plans. Click here for a recent story about a Camping World investor day.
**Other deals from last month. In case you missed it, here are other notable deals that occurred in August (click the headline to read the full story on each):
Photo courtesy SKLZ