Done Deals: JD Sports Sells Licensing Subsidiary & More News

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Jan. 29, 2024: JD Sports has sold its apparel brand licensing subsidiary Focus Brands to Hela Apparel Holdings PLC, a Sri Lankan apparel manufacturer. Focus Brands holds licensing agreements for the design and distribution of Ellesse and Nautica as well as other brands across the UK, EU and other markets. “The addition of Focus Brands to the Hela Group is a watershed moment for us as an organisation,” chairman of Hela Apparel Holdings PLC A. R. Rasiah said in a statement. “We see immense potential to build significant synergies with our existing manufacturing business, supported by the addition of a Focus Brands well-experienced team of over 200 who have a proven track record of successfully growing major apparel brands.”

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Jan. 22, 2024: True Religion has inked a new footwear licensing agreement with Orly Corporation, a New York-based wholesale distribution company, as the global accessories brand gears up to launch a footwear collection for men, women and kids in Fall 2024. Prices for the collection will be between $55 and $200. “As we continue to broaden our lifestyle portfolio, we’re pleased to enter into a new footwear partnership,” said True Religion CEO Michael Buckley in a statement. “Orly, our new licensee, takes a customer-first approach to everything they do, which is in alignment with how we run our business. We look forward to being able to provide full head-to-toe looks to our consumers thanks to this unique category extension for the brand.”

Dec. 13, 2023: Bulgarian accessories brand By Far made its debut into ready-to-wear with its resort ’24 collection. Under creative director Denitsa Bumbarova, the design team adhered to By Far’s signature approach to novelty and craftsmanship to offer a collection of easy and wearable contemporary classics. The apparel lineup elevates staple items through subtle transformations like a basic white ribbed tank with a dropped back, classic jeans in soft Japanese denim, a cashmere sweater with twisted contrast seams and a leather racer jacket with a ’90s boyfriend fit. By Far’s resort collection will be available starting Dec. 15 at its Los Angeles flagship and Le Bon Marche in Paris, as well as online through Luisaviaroma, Wowconcept, Ssense and Revolve.

By Far Resort 2024 ready to wear
By Far launched ready-to-wear as part of its resort ’24 collection.Courtesy of By Far

Dec. 12, 2023: Aetrex Inc. has inked a partnership with custom ski boot manufacturer DaleBoot. Leveraging Aetrex’s Albert 2 Pro foot scanning technology, DaleBoot will transition from manually measuring customers’ feet to using automated 3D foot scan data to design custom ski boots, improving fit accuracy and customer satisfaction and reducing refitting rates during the short winter retail season. Since August, DaleBoot has been using Aetrex scanners in eight brand stores, including in Salt Lake City, Utah; and Kitzbuehel, Austria. The company will now roll out the foot scanners to all 60 points of distribution in ski shops around the world. According to the partners, this marks the first use of 3D foot scanning technology in custom ski gear.

Dec. 4, 2023: Aerosoles parent company American Exchange Group continues its mission to transform the shoe brand into a lifestyle label through more licensing partnerships. Most recently, the New York-based company announced a deal with Maze Collections Inc. for the distribution of work-appropriate career pants under the Aerosoles name. The first collections are set to launch in spring ’24 and will include versatile designs, including skinny, straight and bootcut pants, as well as curvy fit options with stretch fabrications. Distribution is targeted to major accounts, such as department stores and off-price chains, with retail prices starting at $80. This marks Aerosoles’ first foray into apparel after successfully expanding into sleepwear earlier this year. The brand also has launched new footwear categories such as girls’ shoes since being acquired by American Exchange Group in 2022.

Aerosoles work pants apparel collection spring 2024 American Exchange Group Maze Collections
Aerosoles will launch a collection of work-appropriate pants for spring ’24.Courtesy of American Exchange Group

Nov. 28, 2023: Canada Goose has acquired the operating assets of Paola Confectii Manufacturing, the company’s first European manufacturing facility. Canada Goose said in a statement that this move builds upon its existing network of seven facilities across Canada, and supports the company’s Strategic Growth Plan, specifically expanding existing categories and increasing year-round relevance. Based in Romania, Paola Confectii has been a partner in manufacturing luxury knitwear for Canada Goose since its launch in 2017, producing a range of best-selling styles including the HyBridge Knit Jacket. According to Canada Goose, knitwear is one of the leading segments of  its growing apparel category, which exceeded $70 million in annual sales in fiscal 2023. This closer partnership is expected to enhance product margins and supply control, while deepening in-house product expertise. The company added that its core down-filled products will continue to be made in Canada, while apparel production will continue to be concentrated within European facilities. Paola Confectii will continue to be led by Giannino Lessi, general manager, and Paola Zaffalon, technical director, as a standalone entity, maintaining regular operations.

Nov. 27, 2023: Backcountry has sold its European subsidiary, Bergfreunde, to Decathlon, a global sporting goods retailer based in France. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the Park City, Utah-based outdoor retailer said this strategic decision will allow the company to reduce leverage and focus on amplifying its core business in the North American market. Bergfreunde was founded in Germany in 2006 and has a strong presence in 11 European countries including Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, France, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. In addition, Bergfreunde operates a European e-commerce platform. Through this major investment, Decathlon said it intends to support Bergfreunde’s leadership in the long term, as they continue their strong development and growth journey. Decathlon also said it sees this acquisition as an opportunity to connect to new customers in the outdoor-premium market segment via a fully digital business model, while growing its presence in several major markets in Europe. Upon closing, Bergfreunde will remain an autonomous and independent subsidiary, operating under the Bergfreunde brand, with their current business model being unchanged. Bergfreunde management will remain in their current roles.

Nov. 21, 2023: Wolverine announced on Tuesday that it has made the strategic decision to license their sock business exclusively to Renfro Brands. Wolverine cited the ever-evolving consumer, industry, and retail landscape as their main decision driver. “To better service the needs of our retailer partners and consumers, the decision to partner with Renfro reinforces our prioritization of the sock category,” Tom Kennedy, president of Wolverine Boots and Wolverine Worldwide’s Work Group, said in a statement. “Wolverine, in partnership with Renfro, is focused on providing the highest quality products in the industry in order to elevate our commitment to comfort and durability.” Wolverine socks produced by Renfro will be in market in January 2024 and will be available at retailers nationwide as well as

Nov. 8, 2023: Authentic Brands Group — which in September closed on its acquisition of the Boardriders portfolio that includes Quiksilver, Roxy, DC Shoes and other brands — has expanded its licensing partnership with Warson Brands to include occupational footwear under the Roxy and DC Shoes labels. As part of the deal, Warson will design, develop and distribute premium occupational footwear for men and women for DC Shoes, as well as women’s styles for Roxy, in the U.S., Canada and Europe, including the U.K. This marks the surf brands’ first entry into the work shoe category. The footwear will be designed to meet the American, Canadian and European safety standards, outfitted where necessary with features such as protective steel or composite toe caps, slip-resistant outsoles and electro-static dissipating properties. The collections will retail for $90 to $125 and be available starting spring ’24 at select workwear and specialty retail accounts. Warson is also the occupational footwear licensee for Authentic’s Reebok, Rockport, Frye and Volcom brands.

DC Shoes, Roxy, Authentic Brands Group, Warson Brands, occupational shoes, work boots
Warson Brands has been named the licensor for DC Shoes and Roxy occupational footwear.Courtesy of Authentic Brands Group

Sept. 27, 2023: U.K.-based children’s footwear brand Start-Rite Shoes has received a new seven-figure investment from Reward Finance Group. According to the company, it will use the funds to facilitate the launch of a new back to school product line, spark business transformation and drive revenue growth. The company, which sells children’s shoes to the likes of John Lewis, Next, and many other retailers, is one of Britain’s longest-established manufacturers – operating for over 230 years. The working capital facility also enhances the company’s order book with trade customers and its e-commerce platform as well as introducing the new school range. “The funding provided by Reward has empowered us to act quickly and launch a more affordable range of shoes in the current economic climate,” Peter Lamble, chairman of Start-Rite Shoes, said in a statement. “It has also helped us improve our cashflow and supply chain, paving the foundation for us to drive increased revenue and growth across our core trade and direct to consumer markets.”

Sept. 25, 2023: Sports experiences company Ripken Baseball has signed a multi-year deal with Under Armour, making it the exclusive apparel provider for Ripken’s tournaments, events and properties. Effective Jan. 1 2024, Under Armour will also have naming rights for The Ripken Experience Aberdeen Maryland, will be the presenting sponsor of the All-Ripken Games and will outfit the more than 9,000 baseball players who attend the Cooperstown All Star Village in New York each summer. “As we continue to engage the next generation of athletes, we are excited to partner with Ripken Baseball. It is an honor to inspire and outfit these young players on their journey to compete at Ripken facilities, events, and tournaments,” said Under Armour president and CEO Stephanie Linnartz in a statement.

Ripken Baseball
Ripken Baseball

Aug. 18, 2023: Westcliff University has signed a five year deal with Nike through BSN Sports. Though the deal, Nike will be the official apparel, uniform and equipment outfitter for Westcliff’s 28 varsity sports teams and 11 academy teams. The partnership comes on the heels of a strong two-year performance from Westcliff Athletics in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). “This partnership is a testament to our student-athletes’ success, and I am proud to see them equipped with best-in-class clothing, shoes and equipment to support their continued success,” said Westcliff dean of athletics, Shawn Harris. “The Nike brand carries a sense of pride and accomplishment that we believe will help us continue to recruit top-quality athletes and further build our athletic program.”

Aug. 10, 2023: Trove, which powers resale for a variety of brands and retailers, raised $30 million in a Series E funding. This brings Trove’s total funding to over $150 million since it launched. Wellington Management and ArcTern Ventures co-led the round, which included participation from Mitsui Fudosan’s CVC Fund, G2 Venture Partners, Prelude Ventures and other existing Trove investors. Trove said this funding will help it expand to more brands and categories.

July 7, 2023: JD Sports Fashion is looking to pay 500.1 million euros ($544.9 million) to gain control over its Iberian business and buy out minority investors, the company announced on Friday. JD said it would buy almost 50 percent of shares in Iberian Sports Retail Group, which would give it total ownership over the group.

July 5, 2023: New York-based men’s activewear brand Ten Thousand has raised $21.5 million in Series A financing. The investment was led by Provenance with participation from Fernbrook and Alfa. This syndicate joins existing seed investors including Dave Gilboa (co-founder of Warby Parker), Blue Scorpion, and Elizabeth St Ventures. Coinciding with this funding announcement, Ten Thousand also announced a 3-year partnership with Life Time Athletic Country Clubs that will make them the exclusive men’s training apparel brand of Life Time’s Dynamic Personal Training (DPT) team and its Studio, GTX, Alpha, and Ultra Fit classes, and will sponsor select Life Time events as well as deliver exclusive products and in-club activations. As a business we’ve not only seen significant growth on a consistent basis, we also have one of the highest repeat customer rates in the industry,” Keith Nowak, founder and CEO of Ten Thousand, said in a statement. “With this new investment and our partnership with Life Time we can shift the business into high gear by growing our team, investing in more inventory, exploring retail, larger partnerships and new marketing channels.”

July 5, 2023: Kit and Ace, a technical apparel company originally started by members of the same family that launched Lululemon, has found a new owner. Unity Brands Inc. – owned by Club Monaco and Joe Fresh founder Joe Mimran, along with David Lui and Frank Rocchetti – announced on Wednesday that it has acquired the brand and hopes to “propel” it into a future marked by enhanced strategic initiatives, expanded market presence, amplified brand campaigns, elevated product offerings, and increased investment in resources. Under the new ownership structure, Lui will assume the role of CEO, overseeing the organization’s growth, operations, marketing, e-commerce, finance, and logistics from the head office in Vancouver. Meanwhile, product design and development will relocate to Toronto, managed by Mimran’s creative design center. Working alongside the new owners, George Tsogas, the previous owner, will remain with the company, ensuring a seamless transition and continued operational excellence. Tsogas will assume the role of chief operating officer. “This new chapter will allow us to amplify Kit and Ace’s creative vision, providing significant opportunities to expand the brand’s retail stores and e-commerce presence,” said Lui. “Customers can expect to see the brand take center stage with compelling brand campaigns and a stronger online presence.”

George Tsogas, Kit and Ace
George Tsogas, the former owner, will now assume the role of chief operating officer.Kit and Ace

July 5, 2023: Birkenstock is taking over distribution of its product in the Belgian market. From July 1, the German footwear brand will take over distribution from importer Lanaform and directly serve its customers and consumers in the country. In line with the increased focus on the Belgian market, Birkenstock said it wants to establish its own local sales company and open an office in Amsterdam this summer, which will act as a central point to serve customers and consumers throughout the region. “We are delighted to start a new chapter for the Belgian market,” Nico Bouyakhf, president of Europe at Birkenstock, said in a statement. “With this important step we can better align our offer with the rapidly changing requirements and wishes of the local market. The direct distribution offers a great opportunity for us to deepen our relationship with our customers.” Fabio Ortega, VP of wholesale in Europe added that the company is “experiencing significant growth,” with an investment of several million euros in the expansion of production capacity in Germany, coupled with changes in the consumer and distribution landscape. “We are aiming for a robust direct-to-consumer (DTC) business and high-quality wholesale distribution in Belgium,” Ortega added.

Birkenstock new colorways
Birkenstock new colorways

June 20, 2023: Authentic Brands Group and Innovative Eyewear, Inc. — the developer and retailer of smart eyewear under the Lucyd, Nautica and Eddie Bauer brands — have teamed up to license smart eyewear for Reebok. The initial Reebok collection is expected to launch early in 2024 with styles for men and women. Said Harrison Gross, CEO of Innovative Eyewear, Inc., “Our partnership with Authentic for Reebok represents a significant step towards revolutionizing the sport eyewear segment with the convenient access to info and audio content and freedom from reliance on phone screens made possible by our Bluetooth frame technologies.”

May 25, 2023: FitFlop has inked new partnership deals with multiple new global distributors in a bid to boost its global growth. The footwear company said that these strategic partnerships will enable it to enter new markets and elevate the level of service provided to its retail partners by having a local presence through a reliable partner with a keen interest to grow and develop the brand. As such, FitFlop has teamed up with Slavin+Raphael based in Toronto to develop the brand in Canada and elevate its local service levels. Albion 1897, a new distributor for Spain provides the business with a dedicated focus on lifestyle distribution. Orbico has joined the FitFlop distributor network to cover key markets across Eastern Europe. The Fais Group has been appointed the exclusive distributor for Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria & Romania, and the brand has partnered with Baltic Street Distribution to introduce the FitFlop brand to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. What’s more, the brands successful partnership with Central Retail will expand its reach to now include Vietnam next to its existing business in Thailand. The company said it is also currently finalizing further projects to push its growth forward and unlock the global FitFlop opportunity.

May 24, 2023: QVC and HSN parent company Qurate Retail Inc. has agreed to sell its Zulily business to Los Angeles-based investment firm Regent. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. According to Qurate, the divestiture of Zulily aligns with the company’s Project Athens transformation strategy unveiled in June 2022 to optimize its brand portfolio. David Rawlinson, president and CEO of Qurate Retail, said in a statement that he is confident Regent is the right partner for Zulily to continue serving its customers. “This divestiture will allow our management team to better focus on our core video commerce assets, QVC and HSN, and the Cornerstone Brands, while preserving liquidity to further strengthen our balance sheet,” Rawlinson said. “I would like to thank Terry Boyle and the entire Zulily team for their continued hard work and commitment amidst a challenging retail environment.”

May 11, 2023: The University of Cincinnati Athletics Department has signed an apparel deal with with BSN Sports, a distributor of team sports uniforms. Under the deal, the University will outfit its team in Nike Inc. products from Nike and Jordan brands. “This is a monumental moment for our more than 450 student-athletes and our entire athletic department. It was important for us to have stability in our apparel provider for years to come and to have a partner solidified as we joined the Big 12 this summer,” Cincinnati director of athletics John Cunningham said in a statement. “To many of our fans, Jordan Brand represents the quintessential jersey of one of the top stretches in the history of Cincinnati basketball, while Nike has proved to be the driving force in athletics apparel innovation for decades. I can’t wait to have the Swoosh and Jumpman logos join with our C-Paw marks once again.”

May 11, 2023: Bluestar Alliance has announced an affiliate acquisition of the U.S.-based wholesale and retail business assets of Dutch fashion brand Scotch & Soda. The acquisition by an affiliate of the Bluestar Alliance company allows, among other things, for Scotch & Soda and its products to be sold across the USA in a fleet of retail stores. This acquisition follows the previously announced acquisition of the Scotch & Soda brand (including worldwide licensing and distribution rights) by a separate affiliate of Bluestar Alliance. As part of this move, Bluestar Alliance has tapped Anthony Lucia as global president of its Scotch & Soda USA and global business operations. Lucia brings over 25 years of expertise running both U.S. and global fashion brands including Hugo Boss, G-Star and Escada. “I am proud to join the Bluestar Alliance executive team, and look forward to working on one of most recognized brands in contemporary fashion,” Lucia said.

May 3, 2023: White Mountain and Cliffs, which were acquired in January by American Exchange Group, have signed multiple license agreements for new product categories, marking their first foray beyond women’s footwear. The two brands have partnered with Iconic Footwear Inc. for the distribution of slippers, sandals, flip-flops, aqua socks and water shoes for women, men and kids. Those collections will retail for $10 to $60. Additionally, White Mountain and Cliffs also inked a deal with Legwear Concepts Inc. for the distribution of socks and hosiery for men, women and kids, priced at $10 to $40. All the new offerings are set to launch in fall ’23 and will be available at Nordstrom Rack, TJX, DSW, the brands’ e-commerce site, as well as more specialty stores.

April 27, 2023: Skechers has signed a deal to acquire Sports Connection Holding ApS, its Scandinavian distributor whose business includes 58 Skechers retail stores, e-commerce and 1,600 wholesale customers. Sports Connection will become a subsidiary of Skechers and will oversee growth for the brand’s presence in Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Greenland and the Faroe Islands. “With the planned acquisition of our long-serving and successful distributor in Scandinavia, we are welcoming the Sports Connection team more closely into the Skechers family,” said David Weinberg, chief operating officer of Skechers USA, Inc in a statement. “We are looking forward to further broadening our reach in Europe by combining the team’s local expertise with our worldwide capabilities and financial resources.”

April 24, 2023: Perry Ellis International has inked a new strategic partnership deal with Walkinshaw Sports to officially distribute Original Penguin golf and tennis clothing to the Australian and New Zealand wholesale and retail market. It comes as two of the brand’s biggest globally recognized ambassadors, Cameron Smith and Ajla Tomljanović, who compete professionally on the world stage within golf and tennis respectively, continue to grow and endorse the brand in their home market. Walkinshaw Sports will officially launch the brand into the market starting April 2023 and will be showcasing fall 2023 golf and spring 2024 golf and tennis collections for men and women. The new collections showcase dynamic prints, classic styling and technically advanced fabrics. “We are excited to expand our global distribution and partner with Walkinshaw Sports, an established and recognized leader in sports apparel wholesale distribution,” Oscar Feldenkreis, president and CEO of Perry Ellis International, said in a statement. “We are delighted that they will use their expertise and relationships to grow our footprint and penetration in the region to the delight of our brand fans and consumers.”

March 7, 2023: Following their merger in August, Information Resources, Inc. (IRI) and The NPD Group have unveiled a new combined company name and brand identity. Now known as Circana, the combined analytics and advisory company will continue to focus on consumer behavior. “We are proud to begin this new chapter together as Circana, a name that conveys our 360-degree, full-circle understanding of the consumer and market, and our unique ability to bring clients a complete view of the consumer, store and wallet,” said Kirk Perry, president CEO of Circana, in a statement. “In today’s dynamic global retail and media environment, our value proposition has never been stronger. Circana is undeniably best positioned to advise the world’s leading brands and retailers across almost every industry on how to identify opportunity, ignite innovation and grow well into the future.”

March 2, 2023: Kurt Geiger London is launching swimwear on April 1. The collection includes a sophisticated array of bikinis, one-piece swimsuits and beach cover ups, many of which feature the brand’s signature Rainbow and Evil Eye motifs. There’s also an exclusive preview access for Kurt Cares members only. Swimwear prices range from $59 to $199 in sizes XS through XL.

Feb. 27, 2023: Comfort footwear brand Aerosoles has signed a new licensing agreement with United Intimate Group for the distribution of women’s sleepwear, robes and intimate apparel. Aerosoles, which was acquired by American Exchange Group in 2022, has been quickly expanding its scope by introducing new categories such as cold-weather accessories, slippers and socks, roller skates and girls’ shoes. Its first sleepwear and intimates collections are scheduled to ship in November 2023 for the holiday season and will be available at leading retailers such as Nordstrom Rack, TJX and more. Retail price points will range from $20-$60. Aerosoles has previously expressed interest in broadening further into home, travel and apparel goods.

Feb. 17, 2023: OrthoLite has welcomed its 500th footwear brand partner. The company is now the official insole supplier is now partnering with 500 footwear brands worldwide, across all categories – athletic, running, comfort, golf, lifestyle and fashion. OrthoLite also noted that its products can be seen in over 550 million shoes per year from brands like Adidas, Altra, Asics, Brooks, Clarks, Cole Haan, Converse, Danner, Ecco, Fendi, Hoka, Hugo Boss, Justin, New Balance, On, Reebok, Rothy’s, Salomon, Skechers, The North Face, Timberland, Toms, Under Armour and Vans. “On behalf of the global OrthoLite team, we want to say thank you to all of our brand partners for trusting us with their partnership,” Glenn Barrett, founder and CEO of OrthoLite, said in a statement. “Consistently earning the trust of our brand partners means everything to us and our entire team is passionate about serving and problem solving for our customers.” As for what’s next, OrthoLite said in a statement that it “looks forward” to continued growth and industry leadership. On top of product innovation, the OrthoLite team is working on developing new standards of sustainability in footwear production, in zero-waste operations, and in materials.

Feb. 13, 2023: Rocky Brands Inc. has entered into a license agreement with Status Accessories to design and distribute belts and wallets under the Durango and Rocky Boots brands. The first product line, Rocky Brands Inc. confirmed in a statement, will arrive at retail in March. The first collection, according to Rocky Brands Inc., will launch in winter ’23 at specialty retailers, independent retailers and key accounts. For the Durango brand, the accessories will include premium leather belts with stitching and details similar to footwear designs. And for Rocky Boots, the leather and nylon belts and wallets will include camouflage and material patterns from its collection of work and outdoor footwear. Also, the Rocky Boots accessories offering will include heavy-duty nylon belts and wallets that align with its tactical boot range.

Feb. 13, 2023: Ebay Inc. has acquired AI-based marketplace compliance tech company 3PM Shield LLC as the online retailer aims to enhance its counterfeit monitoring technology. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. According to Ebay, this acquisition “enhances” its ability to address suspicious or harmful seller behavior, and potentially problematic items that may be unsafe or illegal. “It is a top priority to help ensure that eBay remains a safe and trusted environment for our global community of sellers and buyers, particularly to prevent counterfeits and unsafe or illegal products,” Zhi Zhou, chief risk officer at eBay, said in a statement. “3PM Shield has been a valued and effective external partner in helping eBay tackle these challenges and we look forward to unlocking additional capabilities as we bring their technologies in-house.”

Feb. 6, 2023: Kate Spade New York has partnered with resale platform ThredUp to launch a program that allows shoppers to buy secondhand products from the Tapestry-owned brand via ThredUp’s website. The program is powered by ThredUp’s Resale-as-a-Service program, which enables brands and retailers to sell pre-worn items. “At Kate Spade New York, we are on a journey to driving progress by giving our products a second life and contributing to meaningful change,” said Kate Spade New York CEO and Brand President, Liz Fraser in a statement.

Jan. 30, 2023: NFL star Tom Brady‘s namesake brand is now available at Dick’s Sporting Goods. Brady assortment includes products such as the Brady pant, All Day Comfort Joggers, underwear, performance t-shirts, long sleeves and Zero Weight shorts. In addition to being available online, consumers can shop the label at all three Dick’s House of Sport locations in Rochester, New York, Minnetonka, Minnesota, and Knoxville, Tennessee. “As we continue to grow, we are excited to expand our online and in-store retail distribution at one of the world’s largest sports retail stores,” Jens Grede, CEO and Co-Founder of Brady, said in a statement. “Our displays at Dick’s Sporting Goods House of Sport locations will provide consumers with an immersive Brady experience featuring key styles and some of Tom Brady’s personal memorabilia.”

Jan. 30, 2022: Resale platform StockX has opened its 14th authentication center — and its first in Mexico. The new facility is meant to help local customers get access to faster shipping, more products and quicker payouts. “The launch of this new authentication center in Mexico signifies our commitment to providing a safe and secure experience to our buyers and sellers around the world,” said Greg Schwartz, co-founder and COO at StockX.

Jan. 24, 2023: Omnichannel digital commerce agency Blue Wheel and e-commerce marketplace agency Retail Bloom have merged to form a joint venture Blue Wheel, an omnichannel digital commerce agency. With financial backing from Chicago-based private equity group Longshore Capital Partners, Blue Wheel, according to a statement, now has more than $1 billion in e-commerce revenue under management across its clients. What’s more, the company stated it will focus on hiring in the Detroit area to fuel growth, while maintaining its team across 15 states, which includes a satellite outpost and creative studio in New York City.

Jan. 20, 2023: Brazilian sandal giant Grendene has formed a joint venture with independent investment company 3G Radar to accelerate growth for its portfolio of footwear brands. The new entity, Grendene Global Brands, will draw on 3G Radar’s business management expertise and Grendene’s manufacturing capabilities, and handle the production and operations of eight staple brands: Melissa and Mini Melissa, Ipanema, Rider, Cartago, Zaxy, Grendha and Pega Forte. The joint venture is overseen by CEO Gustavo Assumpcao, whose background includes serving as president of AB Inbev, Mexico, plus 16 years of experience at Anheuser Busch working across revenue management, sales operations, trade marketing and innovation. Among GGB’s overarching goals, it aims to expand and strengthen digital and DTC capabilities, increase the relevance and proximity of the brands to consumers, and rebuild each brand’s infrastructure and basic operating processes, including marketing.

Jan. 13, 2023: Vancouver, British Columbia-based brand Grounded People Apparel Inc. has received a $2.5 million investment from Vancouver-based Right Season Investments Corp. Grounded People strives to be a fair wage and sustainable vegan shoe company. Its first products launched in the fourth quarter of 2021 and include high-top and low-top sneakers made from sustainable, ethically sourced materials, manufactured by fair-trade workers in a 100% vegan factory in Brazil. “Grounded People has come a long way since our founding in 2020, and this investment will enable us to grow our team further, expand our retail and online presence, target international markets and continue building a robust product portfolio that simply and cost-effectively protects our customers and the planet on which we reside,” said Grounded People CEO and co-founder Maximilian Justus in a statement.

Jan. 12, 2023: Oofos and fitness company Exos have entered into a partnership, a two-year agreement that will run through 2024. With the deal, Oofos said in a statement that it will become the exclusive recovery footwear provider to Exos coaches and participating athletes, and will also be part of the company’s 2023 NFL combine training program that is hosted at Exos’ Athlete Performance Institutes. The mission of the partnership, according to Oofos, is to “elevate human performance through personalized support.” With this partnership, Oofos said Exos “is the next momentous step” in bringing its OOfoam impact-absorbing technology to a broader audience. Also, Oofos said it will provide products for the Exos facilities staff and athletes, as well as an opportunity for clients to purchase “as part of their Exos-recommended recovery toolkit.”

Jan. 10, 2023: Emerald, the parent company to Outdoor Retailer, has announced the acquisition of Lodestone Events, a consumer event company that produces the Overland Expo series. Lodestone already partners with Outdoor Retailer on Outdoor Adventure X, Emerald’s first outdoor consumer event. As part of the deal, Lodestone employees will join Emerald and its founders, Lindsay Hubley and Jessica Kirchner, will join the Emerald management team and continue to lead the Overland Expo series and Outdoor Adventure X.

Jan. 05, 2023: Volumental, the footwear technology company focused on helping people get a perfect fit, is launching a self-service version of its size-testing AI product in certain retailers in 2023, following a beta test with Under Armour. This product, which builds upon Volumental’s existing technology for size-testing, allows customers in stores to use the machine themselves instead of working with a store associate. “Our new self-service scanners will bring the same technology that specialty footwear retailers have enjoyed to many more retail segments,” said Alper Aydemir, CEO of Volumental.

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