Berkshire Partners and New Balance to buy The Rockport Company

Berkshire Partners and New Balance Holding have agreed to buy The Rockport Company. The adidas Group is the seller. Financial terms weren’t announced. Canton, Massachusetts-based Rockport designs and markets footwear for men and women. Drydock Footwear, a New Balance affiliate, is joining with Rockport  to form The Rockport Group. The transaction is expected to close later in 2015.

PRESS RELEASE

BOSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Berkshire Partners LLC, a Boston-based investment firm, together with other investors including New Balance Holding, Inc., a global athletic leader, today announced that they have signed an agreement to purchase The Rockport Company from the adidas Group. The Rockport Company is a leading designer and marketer of high-quality comfort footwear for men and women. As part of the transaction, Drydock Footwear LLC, currently a New Balance affiliate and home to the Cobb Hill, Aravon and Dunham brands, will join together with The Rockport Company to form The Rockport Group. The Rockport Group, which will remain based in the greater Boston area, will be a new stand-alone company offering high-quality dress and casual footwear to customers globally across four brands—Rockport, Cobb Hill, Aravon and Dunham.

 

Rockport, headquartered in Canton, Massachusetts, was founded more than 40 years ago, when father and son, Saul and Bruce Katz, hit the roads of New England, selling shoes out of their trunk. Their vision, which continues to inspire Rockport’s products today, was to utilize innovative sports technology to create a unique level of comfort in dress and casual shoes. Rockport’s products are sold through a multi-channel network of leading wholesale partners, as well as through Rockport’s own retail stores and website.

Drydock was founded in May 2011 when Bob Infantino, an industry veteran with a long and successful history of building and leading footwear brands, joined with New Balance to create an independent business committed to delivering innovative, stylish and comfortable dress and casual shoes across three brands: Cobb Hill, Aravon and Dunham.

“We at Drydock are excited to join together with Rockport to create an exciting, new global company with four leading comfort footwear brands,” said Bob Infantino, President of Drydock and the new Chief Executive Officer of The Rockport Group as of the closing of the transaction. “We look forward to utilizing our shared product, marketing and sales expertise to grow The Rockport Group brands and build on their distinctive place in the market that is highly valued by customers and retailers alike.”

John Withee, CFO of New Balance, said, “Given our history of success working together with Bob, we are confident in his ability to lead The Rockport Group and look forward to continued success with our investment in this venture. Bob leads with integrity and has always been committed to delivering great products to retailers and customers.”

“We are excited to invest in The Rockport Group. Bob’s track record at Drydock, and previously with Clark’s, is distinguished, and we look forward to supporting him and the entire management team as they grow the portfolio of brands in the United States and internationally,” added Dave Bordeau, Managing Director of Berkshire Partners.

The transaction is expected to close later in 2015. Goodwin Procter LLP served as legal counsel to Berkshire Partners and New Balance.

* * *

About Rockport:

The Rockport Company, LLC is one of the most recognized footwear brands in the United States. Rockport has a heritage of innovation and offers stylish, comfortable footwear for men and women worldwide. The Rockport Company, LLC, was established in the United States in 1971 and is headquartered in Canton, MA. The company currently distributes footwear to more than 50 markets worldwide. For more information about The Rockport Company, please visit www.rockport.com.

About Drydock:

Drydock Footwear LLC designs, markets and sells comfort casual footwear distributed in premier independent, online and department stores in the United States and Canada. Drydock Footwear was formed in 2011 and assumed control of New Balance’s men’s and women’s casual shoe brands, Dunham and Aravon. In the fall of 2012, Drydock launched what has become its largest brand, Cobb Hill, targeting the women’s comfort category. Drydock Footwear is headquartered in Boston, MA. To learn more about Drydock Footwear, please visit www.drydockfootwear.com.

About Berkshire Partners:

Berkshire Partners, the Boston-based investment firm, has invested in over 110 middle market companies since 1986 through eight private equity funds with aggregate capital commitments of over $11 billion. Berkshire has developed specific industry experience in several areas including consumer products and retail, business services, industrials, communications and transportation. Berkshire has a strong history of partnering with management teams to grow the companies in which it invests with the goal of consistently achieving superior investment returns. The firm is currently investing from Berkshire Fund VIII, a $4.5 billion fund raised in 2011. The firm seeks to invest $50 million to $500 million of equity capital in each portfolio company. For additional information, visit www.berkshirepartners.com.

About New Balance:

New Balance, headquartered in Boston, MA has the following mission: Demonstrating responsible leadership, we build global brands that athletes are proud to wear, associates are proud to create and communities are proud to host. New Balance is the only major company to make or assemble more than 4 million pairs of athletic footwear per year in the USA, which represents a limited portion of our US sales. Where the domestic value is at least 70%, we label our shoes Made in the USA. New Balance owns five factories in New England and one in Flimby, U.K. New Balance employs more than 4,000 associates around the globe, and in 2013 reported worldwide sales of $2.73 billion. To learn more about how New Balance Makes Excellent Happen, please visit www.newbalance.com.