Augusta/Founder Acquired by PE Firm
Augusta/Founder Acquired by PE Firm
Apparently the team sports business and its major vendors have become very attractive to the money men. Following a number of lower profile acquisitions by private equity investors in the past year, the big news came early this month when a collection of the most important apparel uniform brands was acquired by Platinum Equity.
The deal involves Augusta Sportwear Brands (ASB) and Founder Sport Group (FSG), former hard-nosed competitors who now share the same owner and, presumably, the same approach to selling and serving their team dealer clients. While the exact impact the combined companies’ will have on the front lines of the team game is still to be determined, the fact that both companies are similar suppliers – with slightly different specialties – of team uniforms and fan apparel for the youth and recreational sports markets is bound to change the game in the coming seasons.
Financial terms of the private transactions were not disclosed. However, the important part of the official announcement read: “Business is expected to continue as usual for both companies as they work together with Platinum Equity on transition and integration plans.”
ASB’s current portfolio includes Augusta Sportswear, Holloway, High Five, Pacific Headwear, Russell Athletic and CCM. Meanwhile, FSG brands include Under Armour, Badger, Alleson, C2, ProSphere, Garb Athletics and Flash.
According to Platinum Equity, the integrated portfolio of brands will allow the combined company to serve the full range of on-field and off-field or fanwear needs of youth sports teams, clubs, schools and leagues.
“Youth sports play an important role in society and participation has been shown to provide important psychological and social health benefits,” explains Platinum Equity co-president Louis Samson. “The core market for youth sports apparel and accessories has grown steadily over the past decade, but the ecosystem is highly fragmented and, in many ways, inefficient.
“We saw the potential to combine two established companies very rapidly and orchestrate a transaction that we believe leverages our unique integration and operational capabilities with the goal of improving those industry dynamics and ultimately bringing to life a better customer experience,” he adds. “This complex transaction is another example of how Platinum’s creativity and out-of-the-box approach to M&A helps us find opportunities to create value even in choppy or dislocated markets.”
“We believe bringing ASB and FSG together will create meaningful benefits for the company’s customers, end consumers and the youth sports apparel industry as a whole,” adds Platinum Equity managing director Jason Price. “Joining forces will create an expanded portfolio of brand and product offerings across the full sports and lifestyle apparel industry. It will make more brands available to more consumers in more communities.”
One area of overlap is the recent significant investments both companies have made in sublimation printing.
“We believe that over time, integrating the two companies has the potential to further reduce customer turnaround times, create a more efficient supply chain and accelerate the impact of sublimation and other technologies throughout the ecosystem,” Price continues. “We have a lot of experience with apparel businesses and are excited about the opportunities ahead.”
The purchase is further complemented by Platinum Equity’s 2020 acquisition of Mad Engine, an omnichannel provider of licensed, branded and private label apparel and accessories. In 2022, the firm acquired international apparel company Hop Lun. Jostens, a well-known name in the academic and achievement channel serving the K-12 educational, college and sports segments, is also a current Platinum Equity portfolio company.
More on About Platinum Equity
Founded in 1995 by Tom Gores, Platinum Equity is a global investment firm with approximately $47 billion of assets under management and a portfolio of approximately 50 operating companies. Platinum Equity specializes in mergers, acquisitions and operations – a trademarked strategy it calls M&A&O – acquiring and operating companies in a broad range of business markets, including manufacturing, distribution, transportation and logistics, equipment rental, metals services, media and entertainment, technology, telecommunications and other industries. Over the past 28 years Platinum Equity has completed more than 450 acquisitions.