AEA Investors-backed ThreeSixty buys toy retailer FAO Schwarz

ThreeSixty Group Inc, which is backed by AEA Investors LP, has acquired toy retailer FAO Schwarz. The seller was Toys ‘R’ Us. No financial terms were disclosed.


IRVINE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–ThreeSixty Group, Inc. (“ThreeSixty” or the “Company”), a leading provider of branded consumer products to the nation’s largest retailers, announced today that it has acquired FAO Schwarz, one of the oldest toy retailers in the world and an iconic brand synonymous with quality and innovation. FAO Schwarz had been owned by Toys ‘R’ Us, Inc., the world’s leading dedicated toy and baby products retailer, since 2009. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

ThreeSixty Group is a leading cross-category designer, manufacturer and distributor of consumer products to major retailers in the U.S. representing over 70,000 retail stores. From its headquarters in Southern California, the Company combines cutting-edge internal design expertise and global sourcing capabilities to bring its retail partners powerful, curated merchandise programs across diverse product categories. These categories include toys and other children’s products, holiday gifts, home décor, games, radio controlled vehicles and drones, and athletic accessories — all marketed under a portfolio of owned and licensed brands including Blue Hat Toy Company, Sharper Image, Black Series, Discovery Kids, Smithsonian, and Animal Planet.

“We are humbled to have an opportunity to build upon the iconic heritage of FAO Schwarz,” said Kirk McLean, co-founder of ThreeSixty Group. “For over one hundred and fifty years, FAO has provided a magical experience for children and we hope to keep this tradition alive by crafting fine toys and transformative retail experiences for generations to come. We are investing heavily in this brand and believe there is a tremendous opportunity to build upon the heritage experience and nostalgia of FAO Schwarz.”

The new FAO Schwarz toy collection designed by ThreeSixty will draw upon the one-of-a-kind products and legendary in-store experience at the FAO Schwarz flagship store in New York City. It will also honor the brand’s legacy of innovation through the introduction of new “wow” items intended to evoke the limitless possibilities and creativity of childhood. The new FAO Schwarz toy collection and in-store experience will be available at select retailers in the fall of 2017. Until then, FAO Schwarz merchandise will be available online and at Toys’R’Us stores across the country.

Since 1862, FAO Schwarz has been synonymous with quality and innovation, offering one-of-a-kind playthings and creating cherished memories for generations of children. Over more than one hundred and fifty years of continuous operation, it evolved from a simple toy store to a must-see experience at its flagship location in New York City that attracted millions of visitors annually. FAO was the oldest toy store in the United States and one of the oldest retail establishments of any kind when its New York location closed in 2015.

“As great-great grandson of the founder of FAO Schwarz I and other family members are proud of the legacy of wonder and play that FAO Schwarz represents. We are excited to support ThreeSixty, the latest steward of the brand, and hope they will build upon and strengthen the FAO Schwarz legacy for this and future generations,” said Eric Schwarz, Chair of the FAO Schwarz Family Foundation and Co-Founder and CEO of College for Social Innovation.

“As toy makers, the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of the most iconic toy master is a dream come true,” said Johann Clapp, co-founder of ThreeSixty. “Our first step in building upon the prestige of the FAO Schwarz brand, will be launching an innovative, premium toy collection and creating unique in-store experiences that excite both our retail partners and consumers. The collection will reflect the playful and respected history of FAO Schwarz, and is just the first step in revitalizing this iconic brand.”

Founded in 1999 as MerchSource, ThreeSixty has become a trusted source for innovative, cross-category merchandise programs for major retailers nationally. In 2011, MerchSource acquired its long-time sourcing partner, ThreeSixty Sourcing, and together, began operating under the parent company ThreeSixty Group. The Company has strong, multi-department relationships with virtually every major retailer in the United States, providing ThreeSixty with a diverse customer base and an ideal platform for launching new brands and product categories.

“Since partnering with AEA Investors in 2015, we have been focused on developing a strategy to acquire complementary businesses and consumer brands,” said Mike Roberts, co-founder of the Company. “The acquisition of FAO Schwarz marks the first of many opportunities we see ahead to expand our platform both organically and through acquisition as we strive to deliver more differentiated product offerings to our retail partners.”

About ThreeSixty Group
ThreeSixty Group, originally known as MerchSource, was founded in Southern California in 1999. Today, ThreeSixty designs, sources and distributes consumer products across diverse categories under a portfolio of owned and licensed brands. The Company provides curated merchandise programs which it distributes to major retailers across almost every retail channel in the U.S. representing over 70,000 retail stores. In 2015, ThreeSixty received a majority investment from AEA Investors LP, one of the oldest private equity firms in the U.S.

About AEA Investors LP
AEA Investors LP was founded in 1968 by the Rockefeller, Mellon, and Harriman family interests and S.G. Warburg & Co. as a private investment vehicle for a select group of industrial family offices with substantial assets. AEA’s active individual investors (the “Participants”) include an extraordinary network of more than 75 of the world’s leading industrial families, business executives and former government leaders. Today, AEA’s approximately 70 investment professionals operate globally with offices in New York, Connecticut, London, Munich and Shanghai. The firm manages funds that have approximately $10.0 billion of invested and committed capital including the leveraged buyouts of middle market companies and small business companies and mezzanine and senior debt investments. AEA Private Equity invests across four sectors: value added industrial products, specialty chemicals, consumer / retail and services.