Implus Corp., a leader in insoles, shoe care and other sports accessories brands, announced that Boston-based investment firm, Berkshire Partners LLC, entered into a definitive agreement to acquire a majority position in the company – alongside management – from Trilantic North America.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Trilantic acquired a majority ownership interest in the company from AEA Investors in 2011. Since then, Implus has acquired five companies: ICEtrekkers, DryGuy, Penguin, Fitdeck and TriggerPoint. The Penguin acquisition included the Tectron brand.

Other Implus brands include Sof Sole, Sof Comfort, Airplus, Apara, Perfect, Yaktrax, Little Hotties and Sneaker Balls. It's also the licensed producer of New Balance Sports Monitors. Overall, Implus’ product portfolio ranges from insoles to shoe care products, performance socks, home fitness and wellness products and a variety of seasonal accessories.

In an interview with Sports Executive Weekly, Todd Vore, president, said Berkshire Partners acquired Trilantic’s stake in this deal and they become the sole private equity group.

“The partnership does increase valuation and funding for Implus, and will allow us to maintain historical growth as well as our aggressive acquisition strategy,” stated Vore.

Berkshire Partners has invested in over 100 middle market companies since 1986 through eight private equity funds with aggregate capital commitments of $11 billion. In the sports space, it’s best known for partnering in January 2015 with New Balance to acquire Rockport from Adidas for $280 million.

Implus said Berkshire has industry experience in several areas including consumer products and retail, business services, industrial manufacturing, transportation and communications. It also has a reputation for partnering with management teams to support growth.

“Berkshire Partners has established itself with a great track record of supporting consumer products companies,” said Vore. “Overall, they will allow us to maintain growth and push Implus to grow in several channels of distribution.”

Day-to-day business will not be affected, according to Vore, and the company plans to “continue to support retailers with reliable and innovative solutions.”

The changeover will also continue to support Implus’ aggressive acquisition pace. Its last acquisition came in October 2014 with TriggerPoint, best known for its foam rollers that help alleviate tightness in muscles. In August 2014, it acquired DryGuy, a leading supplier of footwear dryers and thermal layering systems. In July 2014, Implus bought FitDeck, which sells decks of playing cards that feature exercises from yoga to Navy Seal experts.

“Our recent acquisitions are growing exponentially, as we continue to invest in strategically aligning and marketing the brands within segmented channels of distribution,” said Vore. “As this model has proven to grow our footprint in the accessories marketplace, we plan to continue to apply this strategy to additional brands that we can partner with to become a one-stop-shop for the FDM (food, drug and mass), sporting goods, run specialty, outdoor and fitness marketplaces.”
Implus’ business model, which combines a wide assortment of merchandise with strong customer service, helps retailers to navigate resource and time constraints through state-of-the-art logistics, merchandising and marketing capabilities. Services include customized fulfillment strategies, point-of-sale monitoring, ‘just-in-time’ inventory replenishment and store-level product assortments that account for regional and seasonal variation in needs and preferences.

“We are excited to begin our partnership with Berkshire Partners,” said Implus CEO, Seth Richards, in a statement. “We appreciate Trilantic's support during a transformative part of our company's growth and believe this new development will ensure our ability to continue providing retailers with an innovative selection of high quality products and the superior customer service for which we strive every day.”

“Implus is the leader in the segments in which it operates and is clearly a valued vendor to its retailers,” added Dave Bordeau, managing director of Berkshire Partners. “We believe the breadth of opportunity for organic and acquisition-driven growth is compelling. We look forward to working with Seth and Todd and the rest of the Implus team to support the next phase of the company’s development.”

Jamie Manges, partner at Trilantic, said, “We would like to thank Seth, Todd and the rest of the team at Implus for their dedication in building the company throughout the duration of our partnership. We look forward to their next chapter of success as they embark on their new relationship with Berkshire Partners.”

The transaction closed on April 30. Robert W. Baird & Co. acted as Implus’ financial advisor in the transaction and Kirkland & Ellis LLP served as legal counsel to the company and Trilantic North America. Ropes & Gray LLP served as legal counsel to Berkshire Partners.