Thule has been stringing together acquisitions quite rapidly over the past few months with several European brands folded into the portfolio, including, a german trailer rental company; Pewag Schneeketten Group, an Austrian Snow Chain company; and Star Industrier, a Swedish trailer manufacturer. Most recently, the company signed a deal to acquire three brands currently owned by Advanced Accessory Systems – Brink International BV, Valley Industries, and Sport­Rack Accessories. The three brands will increase Thule’s top line by about 50% or $238 million.

Fred Clark, Thule North America’s president, told BOSS that they will not have much visibility into the new businesses and the integration process until the EU anti-trust authorities clear the deal. However, he did say that Brink International and Valley Industries are primarily trailer hitch and accessory companies. In North America, there will be a new division to deal with this aspect of the business. Sport­Rack Accessories will be folded into Thule N.A. and will add about $17 million to their top-line for the year. The Sport-Rack name will continue as a value-level brand, positioning Thule as a premium rack brand.

Mr. Clark said that the new brand will open up some distribution opportunities that were not possible before. There will be no change to Thule’s operations in 2006 but expect to be able to provide more detail on the acquisition and any potential benefits to retailers this fall.