US fabric maker Polartec is to be acquired by textile maker Milliken & Company, in a move that bolsters its capabilities to include fleece and performance textiles for consumer, workwear and military outdoor apparel.

The sale by Versa Capital Management is expected to close this month (June), although financial terms have not been disclosed. 

Headquartered in Andover, Massachusetts, the Polartec brand includes a portfolio of fabric technologies for outdoor apparel, from performance-driven and consumer-focused textiles, to flame-resistant, workwear and military-grade fabrics. 

The addition of Polartec – particularly its outdoor and fleece textiles – rounds out the portfolio at Milliken, whose Performance and Protective Textiles Division covers markets including automotive, interiors, industrial and military. In apparel, it supplies products for workwear, activewear and protective applications.

“Polartec brings a wealth of new and respected outdoor textile expertise to complement Milliken’s strengths,” says Halsey Cook, president and CEO of Milliken & Company. “The strategic acquisition broadens our textile capabilities with a product offering to now include fleece and soft-shell outerwear, among others, allowing us to grow in new and exciting spaces.”

Polartec CEO Gary Smith adds: “With more than 150 years of textile innovation, Milliken is the best possible ‘natural owner’ of a brand with Polartec’s pedigree. I look forward to supporting the integration.”

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Versa Capital acquired the assets of the former Malden Mills in 2007 through the then 101-year-old textile manufacturer’s third reorganisation. Working with management, the business was transformed, renaming the company Polartec, reorienting it toward a technology- and innovation-led growth strategy, and revamping the company’s leadership, operations, manufacturing footprint and customer relationships.

Jeff Price, president of Milliken’s performance and protective textiles division, says the move also expands the firm’s regional manufacturing reach and grows its technological expertise, enabling it to further deliver innovative performance textiles to the global market.

Polartec products range from lightweight wicking and cooling fabrics, to insulation and weather protection textiles, and are used by leading consumer brands, the US military and other global militaries, flame resistance, workwear, and contract upholstery markets.

Among the most recent developments from Polartec is a new ‘Ready to Roll’ programme offering first-quality fabrics, in stock and ready to ship, to meet customer demand for shorter lead times.

The company has also been boosting the sustainability credentials of its products by committing to using 100% recycled and biodegradable materials across its entire product line; and developing what it claims is the first fabric technology engineered to reduce fibre shedding.