M&A activity

The sector is evolving fast as brands increasingly go direct to market and look to sell their products globally, while retailers also seek to strengthen their own brands. At the same time all brands need to constantly innovate to differentiate themselves.

These changes are creating M&A opportunities as companies look to reduce costs, enter new markets and extend product ranges. With significant investment from private equity, driven by high growth rates as outdoor products become more mainstream, we are seeing an increasing number of business owners looking to exit, creating more quality acquisition targets.

We therefore expect to see significant international M&A activity in the future. Private equity The sector has traditionally been very attractive to private equity, and interest remains strong given the fragmented nature of the outdoor market – especially when compared to the more consolidated sports market. However, PE players are now facing increasing competition from trade buyers.

Recent PE deals include:

  • Groupe Shark, the French manufacturer of helmets, clothing and accessories for motorcycle riders and a portfolio company of Naxicap Partners, acquired Marlybag, the French manufacturer and retailer of winter sports masks and helmets. The transaction enables Marlybag to develop its research and development capabilities in the bike and outdoor markets.
  • Freeman Spogli & Co acquired Osprey Packs, the US designer and manufacturer of technical packs for outdoor, travel, cycling, running, kids and urban adventures.
  • Growth Capital Partners acquired AMG, a UK group of outdoor brands including Vango and Force Ten. The acquisition will help to accelerate AMG’s growth plans by helping it develop new products, invest in brands, and expand its geographical reach.
  • PE firm Ratos acquired Oase Outdoors, a Danish family-owned company that supplies camping and outdoor equipment under the Outwell, Easy Camp and Robens brands.

Recent trade transactions include:

  • Wal-Mart Stores acquired Moosejaw Mountaineering and Backcountry Travel, the outdoor equipment and apparel retailer, from investors including Parallel Investment Partners and Glencoe Capital.
  • Finnish investor Ville Rantala acquired Scandinavian Outdoor Oy, a Finnish retailer selling outdoor gear and camping equipment. The acquisition gives Scandinavian Outdoor the opportunity to expand its business internationally.
  • Vista Outdoor, a designer and manufacturer of consumer sports products, acquired Camp Chef, a manufacturer of outdoor cooking instruments.
  • Coghlan’s, the Canadian manufacturer of outdoor camping accessories, acquired McNett Corporation, the US manufacturer of outdoor gear and accessories.
  • International Retail Corporation SA, the Switzerland-based investment holding company of Beat Zaugg, acquired a majority stake in Transa Backpacking AG, a Switzerland-based supplier of travel and outdoor products.
  • Schwanhaeusser Industrie, a German group which already owns well-known outdoor equipment brand Deuter, acquired Maier Sports GmbH, a German manufacturer of sportswear for skiing and outdoor sports.
  • Cherokee, a provider of women’s apparel, footwear, and other goods, acquired Hi-Tec Sports, a UK manufacturer and designer of sportswear, as part of its move into the active lifestyle arena. Hi-Tec will enhance Cherokee’s presence in active, outdoor markets.
  • H. Young Holdings, the UK-based group that owns a number of businesses including the Animal surfwear brand, acquired Rohan Group, a designer of outdoor activity clothes.
  • JD Sports Fashion, the European retailer of sports clothing and accessories, acquired GO Outdoors, the UK outdoor retailer best known for its camping equipment.
  • Japanese company Descente acquired an 80% stake in Inoveight, the UK manufacturer famous for its off-road running shoes, from PE firm Livingbridge.
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