Athletic wear giant Nike announced Friday that it is selling the Cole Haan unit to New York-based private equity firm Apax partners in a $570 million deal. The company expects the sale to be completed by early next year. Nike revealed its divestiture plan in May, by announcing that it would dispose of Cole Haan and Umbro brands to focus on its core brands.
NIKE, Inc. (NYSE:NKE) chief executive Mark Parker said that the divestment will allow NIKE, Inc. (NYSE:NKE) to focus on the product lines that have the highest potential for stronger returns. He said the company will make sure that the brands in the Nike portfolio are complementary to brand Nike. Earlier, Nike sold Umbro to Iconix Brand Group for $225 million, less than half of $565 million Nike paid to acquire the brand in 2008. Nike’s athletic footwear brands, like Flyknit and Nike+ FuelBand, have created a buzz in the market.
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Analysts were expecting the private equity firm TPG to purchase Cole Haan, because Matthew Rubel, the former chief of leather shoes and bags brand Cole Haan, is now a senior adviser at TPG. But the $570 million offer price by Apax Partners seemed too high for TPG.
Apax has extensive experience in fashion and retail brands. It acquired German discount clothing chain Takko last year for $1.7 billion. Apax owns British retailer New Look Group and skiwear maker Spyder Active Sports. It also has investments in Tommy Hilfiger. To run Cole Haan, the private equity firm is bringing in Jack Boys, the former chief executive of Converse.
Cole Haan was started in Chicago over one hundred years ago by Trafton Cole and Eddie Haan. NIKE, Inc. (NYSE:NKE) acquired it in 1988 for $80 million, to expand its product lines. Cole Haan has 80 standalone stores. It generated $535 million in sales last fiscal year ending May, just 2 percent of NIKE, Inc. (NYSE:NKE)’s total revenue of $24.35 billion. Maria Sharapova’s collections of sandals, pumps, and ballet flats are the bestselling lines of Cole Haan.