FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif. (BRAIN) – Shimano Inc. has sold its Pearl Izumi apparel brand to, among others, United Sports Brands, the parent company of Nathan, Cutters and Shock Doctor.
Pearl Izumi will join Nathan in USB’s new outdoor division, which offers running accessories and apparel.
Pearl Izumi managers notified employees of the sale Monday morning. A purchase price was not announced. Shimano announced the sale when the Tokyo Stock Exchange opened local time on Friday.
Shimano bought Pearl Izumi’s parent company, DashAmerica Inc., from Nautilus in 2008 for approximately $70 million.
Since then, Pearl Izumi has been held as a subsidiary of Shimano’s US business, Shimano North America Holding. Pearl Izumi’s headquarters are in a 55,000 square foot facility in Louisville, Colorado shared by a handful of employees from Shimano’s component business. The building, which won awards for its sustainable construction, was included in the sale.
Pearl Izumi’s European business is a separate subsidiary of Shimano and was also purchased by USB. Originally based in Japan, the Pearl Izumi operation, which Shimano does not own, was not sold to USB. It only works in Japan.
“This is an exciting time for Pearl Izumi,” Geoff Shaffer, Pearl Izumi’s president, said in a press statement. “We have tremendous momentum and a fantastic team dedicated to continuing to take the brand to new heights. Shimano has provided significant support and guidance throughout his ownership and while we will miss being part of Team Shimano, we also know there is great future potential for the brand and look forward to continuing our business with USB to expand.”
In an interview with BRAIN, Shaffer said that Pearl Izumi’s sales have “steadily grown” since a major brand repositioning in 2019. The repositioning included an increased commitment to sustainability and a social mission. now 90% of Pearl Izumi’s products are made from sustainable materials and the brands aim to be carbon neutral by 2025.
Sales continued to soar during the pandemic, first online through the company’s consumer direct site and then through IBDs as the pandemic subsided.
Shaffer said USB has experience with retailers large and small, including team sports retailers that are similar to IBDs. He said Pearl Izumi will be one of the biggest USB brands.
Shaffer said there will be an extended transition period as Pearl Izumi divests its operations from Shimano. “We’re pretty integrated,” he said, with shared sales teams and programs and many shared employees in Louisville. He said he’s not sure what Pearl Izumi’s sales team will look like after the transition, but said the apparel brand will benefit from having the sales team focus on their products, rather than between Shimano, Pearl Izumi and Lazer helmets, another Shimano – own brand.
“The only thing retailers should know is that there will be no disruption to business during the transition, Shimano is committed to that,” he said.
Pearl Izumi launched its Spring 2023 apparel line with its European sales team this week and will be unveiling it to its North American team next week, he said. The North American teams will meet in person the following week in Bentonville, Arkansas, the brand’s first full in-person meeting since the pandemic began.
Who is USB?
United Sports Brands is owned by private equity firm Bregal Partners, which bought Shock Doctor in 2014 Norwest Equity Partners and grew the group from there.
Shock Doctor, originally called EZ Guard, dates back to 1992. The company acquired Cutters (a sports glove brand) in 2012 and XO Athletic (a sports cup brand) in 2014. In 2015, Bregal bought McDavid (a knee brace brand) and merged it with Shock Doctor and renaming the combined companies United Sports Brands. Shortly after the merger, USB acquired Nathan; In 2020 the supplement brand Glukos Energy was added.
According to a factsheet provided by Bregal Partners, the company has $1.25 billion in committed capital; It owns brands in the food and beverage, business services, healthcare, energy and consumer goods industries.
USB is headquartered in Fountain Valley with offices in Belgium, Japan and Canada.
Nathan entered the running apparel market last year (Pearl Izumi exited the running shoe and apparel market in 2016). Together, Nathan and Pearl Izumi give USB a greater presence in the outdoor market, said Michael Magerman, USB’s chief executive officer.
“We are very pleased to welcome Pearl Izumi to the United Sports Brands family,” said Magerman.
“Pearl Izumi is an iconic, authentic and popular brand that aligns strongly with our current brand portfolio at USB. Their culture of driving innovation and excellence in product development—always with a “consumer first” mentality—aligns with our strategy at United Sports Brands. We intend to continue this product innovation and leadership under our leadership. The addition of Pearl Izumi along with our running apparel and accessories company Nathan makes us a formidable player in the outdoor space. We see great opportunities for further organic growth and expansion in this market segment,” added Magerman.
Coincidentally, Shimano’s main competitor in the bicycle component market recently entered the apparel market with the acquisition of Velocio, a small clothing brand from New Hampshire.