By Eric Smith
Less than a year after being sold by Vista Outdoor Inc. to a European private equity firm, Bollé Brands is bolstering its eyewear platform with the acquisition of U.S.-based Spy Optic.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the addition of the Carlsbad, CA-based eyewear brand gives Bollé a strategic play in the U.S. market and tees up plenty of expansion opportunity for the company.
Bollé Brands is the relatively new holding company owned by A&M Capital Europe and now consisting of Bollé, Bollé Safety, Serengeti, Cébé and H2Optix. Vista Outdoor Inc. sold the first four brands of that collection last year for $158 million.
According to Bolle, Spy Optic is “highly complementary within the portfolio in terms of brand proposition, channel mix and geographic presence.”
The company said that adding Spy will “significantly bolster Bollé Brands’ scale in North America, will allow Spy Optic to benefit from increased investment in product development and distribution and will facilitate international expansion of the Spy Optic brand beyond its current footprint.”
“We are excited to have acquired such an amazing brand,” said Peter Smith, CEO of Bollé Brands. “Spy Optic has its own unique and irreverent identity with huge growth potential in North America, its home market, and internationally where Spy Optic will leverage our Bollé Brands international distribution network. Our dedicated approach, support and investment will drive exciting new developments in product innovation and design which will form the basis of considerable global growth. This new acquisition establishes Bollé Brands as one of the key players in the premium performance sport and lifestyle eyewear and helmets markets.”
Spy Optic is a 25-year-old brand that has stayed true to its Southern California roots. The company designs, markets and distributes sunglasses, goggles, helmets and prescription eyewear. It has strong brand recognition not only because of its distinct “cross” logo but also because of a presence across the action sports segment.
Based on what Smith said about Bollé Brands last year when forming the holding company, Spy Optic should be a nice fit.
“Each brand and business unit has its own unique identity with huge potential, our dedicated approach, support and investment will drive exciting new developments in product innovation and design which will form the basis of considerable global growth,” Smith said. “Business efficiency and customer service will be at the forefront of our operations.”
Roth Capital Partners served as the financial adviser to Spy Optic in the deal. The investment banking firm said, “the Bollé and AMCE teams believe Spy presents a compelling opportunity to merge with an iconic U.S. brand, which is highly complementary to Bollé’s portfolio in terms of brand proposition, channel mix and geographic presence.”
Bollé Brands is already growing under new ownership. The A&M Capital Europe platform officially formed in November 2018, about four months after Vista Outdoor Inc. divested the brands.
That sale was part of Vista Outdoor’s previously announced strategic business transformation plan in which the company worked to rightsize its portfolio and focus on the core product categories of ammunition, hunting and shooting accessories, hydration bottles and packs and outdoor cooking products.
“We are pleased to have successfully reached an agreement to sell our eyewear and safety business at an attractive price,” Chris Metz, CEO of Vista Outdoor, said at the time. “The business will have the opportunity to reach its full potential under new ownership. This divestiture is the first step in our transformation plan, and will be the first of several potential asset sales that will significantly reduce Vista Outdoor’s leverage and provide additional resources for us to reinvest in our core businesses.”
In recent months, Vista has further narrowed its focus, selling its Savage Arms brand and focusing only on ammunition, hydration and outdoor cooking.
One way that Bollé has committed to growing the Spy Optic brand is through a significant investment in new systems (i.e., new ERP, new B2B and B2C platforms) “to support its customer-first strategy and to service excellence in product innovation and creativity.”
Bollé Brands gets its name from the safety and consumer eyewear and helmets company that represents the most significant part of the business worldwide and provides central services for all business units, including the Serengeti and Cébé brands.
Bollé Brands continues to be based in France, the companies’ home since 1888.
Photos courtesy Spy Optic. Lead photo Spy Optic sponsored athlete Wiley Miller