Authentic Brands Groups is looking to pad its growing portfolio.
The New York-based owner of Reebok and Nautica is said to be circling Kate Middleton-approved but financially challenged Hunter Boots, Sky News first reported, after taking over fellow British lifestyle brand Ted Baker last year.
The brand management firm is also finagling a $1.3 billion deal for Quiksilver and Billabong owner Boardriders Inc., according to Bloomberg. Authentic reportedly re-engaged with the Southern California company after early talks fizzled last year and Bluestar Alliance’s pursuit of Boardriders broke down. Boardriders would complement existing Authentic brands such as Volcom, the skate, surf and swimwear, and snowboarding lifestyle label.
A source on Monday said the “imminent” Boardriders deal should be official before month’s end.
Authentic has shown it’s comfortable waiting on a deal if it can’t get the terms it wants.
Securing Ted Baker for $254 million took five months of back and forth. “The purchase of Ted Baker is in line with our strategic focus on growing and diversifying the portfolio through the acquisitions of brands that originate from outside of the U.S.,” Authentic founder, chairman and CEO Jamie Salter said after the deal was finalized last fall.
Prior to locking down Ted, Authentic also hammered out a co-ownership deal to manage the labels in DB Ventures, controlled by former English soccer star David Beckham and his designer wife Victoria Beckham. The deal made the footballer an Authentic shareholder and an executive in the firm’s entertainment division.
Salter’s interest in international heritage brands previously had Authentic in pursuit of Debenhams and Arcadia Group, both of which collapsed during the pandemic’s peak.
Many of the more than 30 brands Authentic owns were purchased when they were down and out, illustrating the company’s preference for pouncing when bankruptcy and other challenges cut the asking price.
The Barneys New York owner has also teamed with mall landlords Simon Property Group and Brookfield Asset Management to acquire some companies. Their first joint deal bailed teen retailer Aéropostale out of bankruptcy in 2016 before the trio reunited to take on Forever 21 and JCPenney.
Authentic and Simon also formed the SPARC Group joint venture, which plucked Lucky Brand and Brooks Brothers out of bankruptcy.
For 167 years, Hunter has been producing footwear and is known for the iconic Wellington Boot it introduced in 1956. Each pair of Wellies is handcrafted on the same last from 28 individual parts. Hunter now makes weatherproof outerwear, bags and accessories to complement its footwear assortment.
Hunter holds two Royal Warrants of Appointment from the late Queen Elizabeth II and the late Duke of Edinburgh, meaning it supplies services to the royal court. It got 16.5 million pounds ($21.2 million) in June 2020 from majority stakeholder Pall Mall Legacy, a fund backed by Goldman Sachs and Three Hills Capital Partners. The Wellies maker needed the money to survive the Covid-19 pandemic when live events where it showcased its products were shut down. Private equity firm Searchlight Capital Partners and Pentland Group, which owns a number of sports, outdoor and lifestyle brands, are some of Hunter’s other backers.
Hunter is believed to have received another 5 million pounds ($6 million) in February from existing shareholders along with 2 million pounds ($2.4 million) from lenders to operate while advisor AlixPartners auctions the company.
Representatives for AlixPartners and Authentic executives declined to comment.