BRG Sports Inc. continues to pedal furiously in its race to become more focused and streamlined. On Monday, it announced it had acquired a stake in a Swedish start-up company that is providing patented anti-concussion technology to a growing array of bike helmet brands. Two days later it sold its Easton hockey business in the last of three Easton divestitures completed this year.
The investment in MIPS AB was more of a bombshell, given that the company supplies POC, Rossignol, Scott, Smith Optics and other European brands that compete against BRG Sports' Giro and Bell brands. MIPS developed its Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) through a collaboration between Swedish engineers and a Swedish neuroscientist to address angled impacts and rotational forces to the brain. A growing, but embryonic body of research indicates concussion and brain injuries are often caused by rotational forces to the brain during a head impact. MIPS utilizes a low friction layer on the inside of the helmet to absorb some of the energy created by angled blows to the head. By mimicking the brain’s own protective mechanism, MIPS can provide an additional measure of protection in some impacts.
BRG Sports’ said its investment in MIPS AB will expand the company’s own extensive research, design, and testing capabilities. Giro and Bell introduced eight cycling helmet models at the Eurobike 2014 tradeshow in Friedrichshafen, Germany that use MIPS system. Giro has plans to incorporate MIPS technology in their line of ski and snowboard helmets. It is unclear whether MIPS could find its way into football helmets made by sister brand Riddell.
“While we typically do not comment on product development, we are continuously evaluating potential benefits of new technologies in football protective gear, and MIPS is no exception,” Riddell said in response to questions from The B.O.S.S. Report. “Riddell continues to focus on increasing our knowledge and identifying new ways that our understanding of science can help us improve player protection.”
The companies said nothing in the deal precludes MIPS from continuing to supply other brands. MIPS announced Monday that its technology is used in more than 20 cycling helmets launched at the Eurobike. POC, a Swedish action sports brand owned by Black Diamond Inc., features its partnership with MIPS prominently on its website. This winter, POC is launching its Skull Orbic Comp H.I. MIPS ski racing helmet, which won best in show awards from both the ISPO and the SIA Snow Show last year.
BRG Sports announced Aug. 27 that it had reached an agreement to sell the Easton hockey business for an undisclosed sum to Chartwell Investments, a New York investment company. Chartwell appointed former Bell Sports CEO and current BRG Sports board of director member Mary George as CEO of Easton Hockey. Matt Arndt will continue in his role as President and General Manager of the business. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
BRG Sports sold Easton's diamond sports business to Performance Sports Group in April for $330 million in cash and completed the sales of Easton's cycling business in June as part of a strategy that will focus more resources on building the company's core Riddell football and Giro and Bell action sports brands. In May, for instance, BRG Sports acquired C-Preme Ltd., which designs and develops protective helmets and sporting goods for children, teens and adults. BRG Sports continues to also own Blackburn, which make bicycle trainers, racks and cargo systems.
“The Easton Hockey sale is the culmination of many significant events for our company, all positioning us to begin an exciting new phase in the evolution of our brands as we move forward with a sharp focus on our Action Sports and Football businesses,” said BRG Sports Executive Chairman and CEO Terry Lee.