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Charlesbank to Buy Comfort Shoe Company Rockport for $150 Million

With just one bidder on deck, bankrupt comfort shoe company The Rockport Group has ditched its plan for a bankruptcy auction.

Private-equity firm Charlesbank Capital Partners LLC made a $150 million offer for the Boston-based shoe company, according to The Wall Street Journal. The sale includes Rockport’s global wholesale, independent and e-commerce operations, along with its Asia and Europe operations and retail stores. Boston and New York-based Charlesbank is a middle-market private equity investment firm managing more than $5 billion of capital.

With the financial strength of Charlesbank, Rockport said it will be better positioned in today’s evolving retail landscape. In a statement, the shoe company said the sale will enable it to “ensure the continuation of its deep heritage and great brands and enhance its focus on its global wholesale, independent and e-commerce businesses.”

Rockport filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in May with $287 million in debt. At the time of the filing, the company said it had entered into an asset purchase agreement with CB Marathon Opco LLC, an affiliate of Charlesbank Equity Fund IX in which Charlesbank would acquire a substantial amount of Rockport’s assets.

Following the sale to Charlesbank, post-closing Rockport said it will have “significantly less debt than it did before the sale, which will strengthen its ability to meet the needs of customers and consumers and help further position the Company for growth and long-term success.”

Rockport has changed hands several times in recent years. Adidas AG acquired Rockport when it bought Reebok in 2006. In 2015, Adidas sold Rockport for $280 million to Berkshire and New Balance. The company was rebranded as The Rockport Group with three comfort shoe labels: Rockport, Aravon and Dunham.

In its filing, the company said it fell into debt after its “costly and time consuming” separation from Adidas AG. The sale reportedly led the business to encounter operational challenges that negatively impacted revenue. Additionally, Rockport said it faced “disruptive and costly supply chain interruption” and experienced factory delivery delays due to the closure of three factories in 2016.

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