Fleet Feet Acquiring New England’s Marathon Sports
Specialty running store franchisor Fleet Feet has agreed to acquire New England-based running retailer Marathon Sports and its soundRunner and Runner’s Alley brands. Through the transaction, expected to close in July, Fleet Feet extends its national reach and Marathon Sports retains its local heritage, door count and banner despite the retirement of current, 30-year owners, Colin and Penny Peddie. Financial terms of the transaction that will make Marathon Sports, its ecommerce business, and its two additional banners, CT-based soundRUNNER and NH-based Runner’s Alley, a wholly owned Fleet Feet subsidiary, are not being disclosed.
“This acquisition opportunity was always based on admiration and excitement for what we felt was one of the strongest organizations in the country,” Fleet Feet CEO Joey Pointer told Footwear Insight Extra. “One of the primary reasons that the Marathon Sports Group will remain a wholly owned subsidiary and operate separately from Fleet Feet is the talent across their organization. Beyond being an iconic brand in the Boston area, Marathon has built a team with fantastic talent.”
Per the deal, Marathon Sports’ leadership team will continue operations out of its Waltham, MA, headquarters and each Marathon Sports, soundRUNNER and Runner’s Alley location will continue use of its current store name in all branding, marketing and community outreach efforts.
Completion of the Marathon acquisition will come some nine months after Fleet Feet completed a deal for Jackrabbit Sports from CriticalPoint Capital. Fleet Feet currently has 252 doors across 40 states and the District of Columbia with new 2022 growth expected to come from new franchisees and existing franchisees expanding in their local markets. Marathon Sports Group and its 18 locations, as a wholly owned subsidiary, will not be included in Fleet Feet’s store count.
The Fleet Feet CEO confirmed that he and others in the FF senior management team are “counting on” obtaining some key business takeaways from the Peddies before their retirement. “We are looking forward to working with Colin and gaining his insight to ensure we’re innovating and providing the best possible experience for our customer,” Pointer added.
Ben Cooke, who has served as general manager for the former Princeton Running Co., VP of operations for the Running Specialty Group and most recently as VP of business development and flagship retail for Fleet Feet, will succeed Peddie as president of Marathon Sports.
“I’ve found exactly what you hope for when you sell a business you care deeply about,” says Colin Peddie. “Ben and I have a strong relationship, similar philosophies and have enjoyed many conversations over the past decade about the industry. I know both Ben and Fleet Feet will honor the tradition of Marathon Sports, continue to support the communities where our stores are located, and leverage the strong team and culture we have developed in our organization.”
“Colin, Penny and their entire team are a testament to what a committed group of individuals can do through running and serving communities, and I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to build on Colin’s legacy with a supremely talented staff across 18 stores,” says Cooke. “For over 40 years, Marathon Sports and the communities it serves have established deep running roots. I am so excited to tap into and honor that rich culture and legacy as we move Marathon Sports ahead for the next 40 years and beyond.”
Customers of Marathon Sports, an iconic New England run specialty chain, founded as a single store in Cambridge, MA in 1975, will be sent an email about the Peddies’ retirement and the acquisition from Fleet Feet. But there will be no Fleet Feet branding or messaging in-store or online, Cooke confirmed. Pointer, however, believes opportunities exist for the two specialty retail run businesses to strengthen their respective digital presences going forward.