Earlier this week (21 November) Iconix International Inc. announced it has taken a majority stake in the British streetwear brand, Hoodrich and will work in conjunction with Batra Group and JD Sports, which sells brands such as NIKE and adidas.

Inside the Iconix International and Hoodrich deal

The strategic decision involves the brand management company partnering with Jay Williams, the founder of Hoodrich, who will maintain a stake in the brand.

Both entities shared a vision to accelerate Hoodrich’s global growth and were keen to propel the brand to new heights.

Batra Group, a global brand licensing and design company, will take over business operations, with JD Sports serving as the global retail partner.

Bob Galvin, CEO of Iconix International said: “The brand is extremely well-positioned to capitalise on the growing demand for lifestyle streetwear with an authentic brand story.

“We are committed to bringing this high-quality brand to an even bigger global audience and to expand on Jay’s commendable journey so that Hoodrich continues to be not just something, but something great.”

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By GlobalData

GlobalData apparel analyst, Alice Price believes Iconix’s decision to partner with Batra Group and JD Sports, will ensure the “smooth roll-out of Hoodrich internationally,” as both have experience in working with and stocking streetwear brands.

Here’s why the deal matters

Iconix said its expertise in extending product categories and expanding globally coupled with decades of experience in international brand management, positions the company as an ideal ally for Hoodrich’s next phase of growth.

By opting for a partnership with Batra Group and JD Sports as key global retail partners, Iconix has put together a team that can help scale Hoodrich, added Neil Saunders, a retail analyst at GlobalData.

Batra Group has been involved in other acquisitions before, where it played the role of a key partner. In June 2023, Authentic Brands Group (Authentic) acquired British footwear company Hunter and appointed the Batra Group as one of the brand’s core partners in key regions.

Jamie Slater, CEO of Authentic said he based his decision on Batra Group due to its “proven track record of unparalleled expertise in product development across a range of categories and an established network of prominent retailers.”

Saunders said Batra Group’s role will now be to help Iconix with sourcing and design and will be responsible for many of the operational aspects.

According to Saunders, Iconix is already in business with JD Sports in other areas and the retailer has a consumer base that will be receptive to Hoodrich products, giving Iconix comfort in making JD Sports a part of this deal.

He added: “JD will help with distribution through its stores and online operations.”

JD Sports and Batra Group had not responded directly to Just Style’s request to comment at the time of going to press.

Founded in 2014 in Birmingham, UK, Hoodrich had humble beginnings, with Williams initially selling thirty t-shirts from the trunk of his car.

Now a widely acclaimed choice among celebrities, Hoodrich has established itself as a lifestyle streetwear brand with a robust presence in over 1000 retail outlets across 24 countries, as well as a thriving direct-to-consumer e-commerce business.

Hoodrich had not responded to Just Style’s request to comment at the time of publishing.

Saunders explains that if Iconix succeeds in its investment it will generate a strong return as it likely wants to nurture and grow the brand due to its potential.

He went on to say that although Hoodrich has come a long way since its signing, forming partnerships with major retailers such as Foot Asylum, and JD Sports and being approached by Netflix in 2022, it is still a relatively small business.

Saunders said Iconix will help the brand reach the next level in terms of geographical expansion and boosting sales: “Scaling up requires capital and expertise and this is what Iconix brings to the table.”

Iconix International did not respond to Just Style’s request to comment but according to the official announcement, Iconix plans to use its broad network of licensees to introduce Hoodrich to new markets and product categories, while keeping the brand’s headquarters in Birmingham and Watford.

The brand management company owns many large brands, and a smaller “niche offering like Hoodrich fits nicely into its portfolio,” adds Saunders.

Hoodrich’s tagline, “From Nothing to Something,” encapsulates both Willam’s journey and the brand’s modest beginnings.

Because Williams has injected so much of his personality and energy into the Hoodrich brand, Saunders says it is important to maintain that even as the business grows.

Key takeaways for the fashion industry

Saunders thinks that small, niche brands have lower capital requirements and often bring a unique element to an existing portfolio and it’s more likely that brand companies and retailers may look to acquire or make investments in them.

Acquiring streetwear brands can be seen as a strategic move for brand management companies aiming to stay relevant, reach new demographics and adapt to changing consumer preferences and behaviours.

In 2020, Vans and North Face-owner VF Corp shared plans to acquire Supreme, a privately owned global streetwear brand, in a $2.1bn deal.

At the time the move was said to build on and further evolve VF’s portfolio of brands to align with the “total addressable market opportunities we see driving the apparel and footwear section,” explained Steve Rendle, VF’s chairman, president and CEO.

Rendle had hoped to expand VF Corp to China as Supreme had displayed a strong demand in the Asia portion of the world.

JD Sports, which has been expanding internationally over the years, completed a $495m acquisition of US athletic footwear and apparel streetwear retailer DTLR Villa in March 2021, to extend its presence in the north and east regions of the US.

Two months later JD acquired Manchester-based cult clothing brand Oli Polloi, which sold menswear from brands including Barbour, Nike, Adidas, Ralph Lauren and Lacoste, after purchasing the label’s online assets and store of Oli Polloi earlier that year.

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