Wynnchurch makes Logistik Unicorp its 10th Canadian platform deal

Wynnchurch Capital has acquired a business that makes the uniforms worn by Canada’s military, border control and correctional facilities’ personnel.

The private equity firm said this week it invested in Logistik Unicorp, a Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Québec, provider of uniform solutions to corporate and public-sector organizations.

Terms weren’t disclosed. The sellers were Argosy Partners and Clearspring Capital Partners.

Clearspring, then known as Callisto Capital, invested in 2011 and again in 2012. Managing Director Lawrence Stevenson was the company’s chairman prior to the sale.

Argosy held its stake even longer. The firm told PE Hub Canada its Shotgun Fund invested in 2000 to resolve a shareholder dispute and stayed on to support growth.

Wynnchurch partnered in the acquisition with President and CEO Louis Bibeau.

A former senior diplomat, Bibeau founded Logistik in 1992 to be a new breed of apparel maker, specializing in uniforms and accessories for large customers with complex needs.

They include the Canadian Armed Forces and Australian Defence Force, which require uniform kits rigorous and adaptable enough for a range of operations and environments.

Other clients with specific workwear needs include Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, Canada Border Services Agency, Canada Post, Corrections Canada and NSW Health, an Australian healthcare system.

Logistik has met demand by taking charge of the supply chain. Early on, the company adopted a managed-services model, allowing it to oversee everything from textile research, design and product testing to manufacturing, warehousing and distribution.

Morty White, Managing Director, Wynnchurch Capital

Logistik’s niche strategy and management team proved a strong draw for Wynnchurch, Managing Director Morty White told PE Hub Canada.

“Logistik is the clear-cut leader in its niche industry,” he said. “They have over time demonstrated a unique capability for complex requirements.”

In fact, Logistik’s best days may lie ahead, White said, because the global outsourced uniform-services industry is still in its early stages.

White says Wynnchurch’s plan is to “take the company as far as it can go,” in part by focusing on outstanding opportunities in existing North American and Australasian markets.

While much of the growth is expected to be organic in nature, Logistik could also pursue targeted acquisitions, he said.

An add-on was pivotal to recent growth. In 2011, Logistik bought Australian clothing maker ADA with the backing of Clearspring, greatly increasing its foothold in the country.

Wynnchurch invested in Logistik through Wynnchurch Capital Partners IV, which raised US$1.3 billion in 2014.

The platform investment is Wynnchurch’s 10th in Canada and seventh since 2009, when the Chicago-based firm opened an office in Toronto.

While U.S. PE firms are highly active in Canada’s mid-market, only a few have taken the step of establishing local operations to source deals and keep tabs on portfolio companies.

Montréal-born White, who joined Wynnchurch in 2008, says the Toronto office’s nine-year tenure shows “our long-term commitment to Canada.”

Before Logistik, Wynnchurch invested in Champion Iron, a developer of iron-ore deposits located in the Labrador Trough. The 2016 deal was done alongside Resource Capital Funds.

Other recent Canadian investments include wallboard-equipment maker Gyptech and air-ambulance-services provider Carson Air.

Wynnchurch Managing Partner John Hatherly, who co-founded the firm in 1999, is originally from Thunder Bay, Ontario. He remains a Canadian citizen.