With a new owner and mega-sourcing partner, Spyder is set to jumpstart its growth. The buyer, Authentic Brands Group (ABG), LLC, has big plans to expand Spyder’s sportswear offerings while entering the footwear category. It’s also planning the notably increase Spyder’s presence in department stores but still sees ample room to grow in both sporting goods stores as well as ski shops and other specialty accounts.
Particularly helping the effort will be ABG’s move to establish LF (Li & Fung) USA as the exclusive licensee partner in North, South, and Central America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa for all current in-market and footwear products bearing the Spyder brand. In addition, LF Asia will act as lead agent to identify best-in-class partnerships for the brand in all product categories in the Asia Pacific market.
The Hong Kong-based sourcing giant is expected to particularly provide the expertise to help make Spyder a bigger player in both sportswear and footwear. Perhaps even more critically, Li & Fung is expected to beef up
Spyder’s production efforts and enhance back-end issues such as delivery and fill-ins.
But Jamie Salter, CEO of Authentic Brands Group, in an interview with B.O.S.S. stressed that Tom McGann, CEO of Spyder Active Sports since 2009, is not going anwhere and Spyder’s headquarters will remain in Boulder.
“Tom will be running the whole show,” he stated. “We’re going to have the exact same team in place. And we’re keeping Boulder.”
Salter noted that Spyder’s EBITDA and revenues have risen for the last three years despite well-documented challenges for winter-goods companies over the period.
“With the snow market the ways it’s been, Tom’s done a tremendous job,” said Salter.
Indeed, Salter expects no changes in personnel in the current year as the team preps for coming fall/winter delivery. In 2014, he suspects synergies on the distribution end and in back-office side realized from the partnership with Li & Fung may result in some reassignments “where it’s appropriate and where Li & Fung can do a better job.” But he doesn’t expect any changes in marketing, sales and other customer-facing functions.
Spyder represents the first outdoor and winter sports brand in ABG's growing portfolio. Backed by Leonard Green & Partners, ABG looks to acquire and manage iconic consumer brands across industries and then licenses them to leading retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers and direct-to-consumer channels worldwide. Many compare its business model to Iconix Brand Group.
Since forming in 2010, ABG has quickly acquired a number of brands and trademarks, including Marilyn Monroe, Judith Leiber, Adrienne Vittadini, Taryn Rose, Hickey Freeman, Hart Schaffner Marx, Palm Beach and Misook. In the sporting goods space, it has acquired Prince, Ektelon, Viking, Bobby Jones, TapouT and Sportcraft.
Salter, who’s previous jobs have included CEO of Hilco Consumer Capital Corp. and president of GSI Commerc,. has brokered numerous deals ranging from Sims to Linens ‘n Things, Polaroid, and Sharper Image but Spyder is closest to his early roots. In 1992, Salter helped form Ride Snowboards, eventually taking it public in 1994 and reportedly building it to the second largest brand in the snowsports world behind Burton.
Salter said he’s spent three years trying to acquire Spyder from Apax Partners, the private equity firm that acquired the business in 2004. Said Salter, “It’s one of the great outdoor brands out there and I think it’s got a ton of great qualities to it. It’s not only a great outdoor lifestyle brand in the U.S., it’s also global.”
For its licensing partner, ABG had narrowed its choices down to three “great” candidates but decided on Li & Fung because “they’re the best in the world at sourcing.” Internationally, Asia will become a bigger growth opportunity “for sure,” but South America will also receive a particular increased emphasis. Li & Fung owns many sportswear companies to help better establish Spyder’s all-year sportswear offering for Spyder to help maximize Spyder’s already strong positioning as both a technical and fashionable brand. Li & Fung also owns “a huge footwear business” to support Spyder’s entry into that category.
On distribution, Salter expects further penetration into accounts the brand already serves. “Going into department stores is clearly part of our strategy,” Salter notes, although he stressed that Spyder will stick to selling to the high-end boutiques such as Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks and Bloomingdale’s. He believes Spyder is significantly underpenetrated in the channel, especially compared to the presence there attained by competitors like Canadian Goose.
Spyder is also “working very closely” with Dick’s SG, The Sports Authority and other sporting goods stores to help hit a greater range of price points. Salter said Spyder won’t necessarily be bringing in lower price points but “just expanding more categories and carrying more inventory” to support the current positioning of the brand.
Indeed, Li & Fung will help put Spyder in a position to better support replenishment and other inventory needs of its customers. Salter noted that Spyder has been operating on a “made to order” standpoint, and that limited Spyder’s ability to service accounts. Said Salter, “If they got an order for 100 million, they made 100 million. There was no excess inventory. If it snows, people buy more jackets.”
As an example, he noted how Spyder does less than $3 million at Sports Check, Canada’s largest sporting goods chain. He likewise believes there’s “so many other scenarios where they should be doing substantially more,” but has been constricted because of its tight inventory stance.
“This will elevate and streamline our current business while opening the door to expand the brand's reach into new markets. Our team's creativity and vision knows no bounds,” said McGann in a statement revealing the purchase. ” Technical superiority, great design, and excellent finishing are not limited to the mountain and we are excited to show what is now possible with ABG and LF USA in our corner.”
“This is a truly global brand,” added Dow Famulak, CEO of LF USA and LF Europe at Li & Fung, Limited. “Spyder provides strong building blocks from which to grow a far-reaching brand and we are confident that between our expertise and resources, ABG's vision and Spyder's deep category understanding, we have a team that will enable Spyder to not only meet, but exceed consumer expectations.”
Asked about future acquisitions, Salter said ABG “is still in the market to buy more companies and we still have a fair bit of capital.” But he noted it has to be the right situation. As an example, Salter said he would “love” to acquire Billabong, which has been for sale for the last year. However, the business, which includes a large network of stores, wouldn’t work under ABG’s licensing partnership model as it’s currently set up.
But he still seems ample room to add athletic brands and is particular upbeat about his new purchase.
“I think Spyder’s an amazing brand,” said Salter. “And I’m excited to get back into the winter sports business and really looking forward to helping further what Tom’s built on the outerwear and winter sports side. We’re really luck to have Tom and JJ (J.J. Collier, VP of design and merchandising). That whole team in Boulder is awesome.”