HanesBrands CEO Steve Bratspies revealed in the company’s fourth quarter earnings conference call the process of selling its global Champion brand was “progressing as expected” and it had seen a significant interest, from a “broad and diverse group of global parties.”

The identities of the bidders remain undisclosed, but industry giants such as Authentic Brands Group and G-III Apparel Group are rumoured to be among the contenders vying for Champion’s acquisition.

GlobalData retail analyst Neil Saunders is certain Champion would slot into both Authentic and G-III Apparel easily and could “take advantage” of their existing operations and skills.

He also pointed out “there would also be some financial benefits as there would be some synergistic savings from Champion’s existing operations”.

Saunders noted that G-III Apparel already has a license for Champion so a potential sale would garner it more control by bringing the brand’s intellectual property and ownership in-house.

Meanwhile, for Authentic, a potential deal would give it another brand for it to “fix and add value to by improving distribution”.

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Saunders admitted it’s impossible to say for certain who is more likely to move forward with the bid as the process has been quite “secretive” and those involved have kept “their cards close to their chest”.

HanesBrands, Authentic Brands Group and G-III Apparel had not responded to Just Style’s request for comment at the time of going to press.

HanesBrands enlisted the expertise of financial company Goldman Sachs & Co. and Evercore in September 2023 to explore potential strategies for the active brand after share prices had declined by -51.6% over its last year.

This was attributed at the time to the “management’s largely ineffective response to recent market challenges.”

Bratspies pointed out in the company’s most recent Q4 earnings call that the actions HanesBrands had taken to “simplify” the business, “reduce inventory, cut costs, and reignite innerwear are working,” however he noted that would take time for strategic actions to translate to the P&L.

He also noted: “With respect to our review of strategic alternatives for the global Champion business, which I know is top of mind, the process is progressing as expected.”

The company’s ongoing efforts are against the backdrop of Champion’s global sales decline of 23% in the fourth quarter due to the sales environment proving to be more challenging than expected.

In September last year Saunders shared that Hanesbrands had been struggling for a while and was being dragged down by excessive debt. As such, he added: “It was always going to have to make some kind of move to sort out its financials”.

During the recent Q4 earnings call Bratspies said: “We continue to aggressively implement our Champion performance enhancement plan to strengthen the brand and position Champion for long-term profitable growth.

“We went into the execution of our Champion strategy with a full understanding that these long-term strategic actions would create real top-line headwinds in the short term, which we’re seeing play out.”

He added that the brand was “cleaning up” its inventory whilst focusing on “building brand heat within our pinnacle product.”

In HanesBrand’s third-quarter results, Champion’s sales decreased 19% on a reported basis and 20% on a constant currency basis as compared to the prior year.