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August 4, 2021

Wolverine Worldwide acquires Sweaty Betty in US$410m deal

US footwear company, Wolverine Worldwide, which owns brands such as Hush Puppies and Keds, has acquired UK-founded luxe sportswear brand Sweaty Betty for US$410m.

By Laura Husband

Wolverine Worldwide has purchased the luxe sportswear and digitally-savvy brand Sweaty Betty in an all-cash deal to fuel its growth and enhance the company’s e-commerce business.

The deal, which closed on 2 August, means Wolverine Worldwide has acquired all of the Lady Leisure InvestCo Limited shares, which owned Sweaty Betty, from private equity group L Catterton, as well as the shares from other shareholders for approximately US$410m.

Sweaty Betty was founded in the UK in 1998 and has grown to become a global women’s brand with over 80% of its revenue coming via direct-to-consumer channels.

Sweaty Betty had accelerated sales during the pandemic, with revenue expected to reach GBP179m in 2021, according to analysts at Shore Capital Markets. The analysts explained online penetration is high at 70% and the business has 65 stores in the UK and Hong Kong to create customer awareness and engagement. 

Sweaty Betty did have 12 stores in the US but all of them closed in 2020 due to the pandemic so Shore Capital Markets analysts believe the new Wolverine Worldwide ownership will offer an opportunity to fuel the international expansion of the brand once again.

Wolverine Worldwide’s chairman and CEO Blake W. Krueger said: “The acquisition of Sweaty Betty complements our strategic shift over the last several years from a traditional footwear wholesaler into a consumer-obsessed, digital-focused growth company. It also gives us a leadership position in the growing women’s activewear category.”

Wolverine Worldwide’s president Brendan Hoffman pointed out the acquisition will help the company to focus on growing its digital channels and expand its international footprint, as well as build a portfolio beyond footwear.

Wolverine Worldwide’s portfolio prior to the Sweaty Betty purchase was focused on footwear with brands including:  Hush Puppies, Bates, Cat Footwear, Merrell, Chaco, Harley-Davidson Footwear, HYTEST, Keds, Saucony, Sperry, Stride Rite and Wolverine. 

Hoffman said: “Sweaty Betty’s expertise and focus on apparel, female consumers, and best-in-class digital execution has proven to be a winning combination. We are excited to support the brand’s continued growth while learning from its digital-first mindset and leveraging that strength across our portfolio.”

Riley Financial Company analysts believe there is a strong growth opportuntity for Sweat Betty. The analysts said: “We expect Sweaty Betty, which offers casual and lifestyle apparel, to benefit from the casualisation of work apparel.”

Sweaty Betty’s CEO Julia Straus will continue to lead the brand and will report to Hoffman. She said: “From the moment I met the team at Wolverine Worldwide, I knew they were the right partner to support us in the next chapter of Sweaty Betty. Their portfolio of purpose-driven heritage brands, knowledge and expertise in building performance brands, robust international distribution, and supply chain expertise provides a strong platform to expand Sweaty Betty and further our mission to ‘empower more women through fitness all over the world’.”

Click here to find out how and why footwear and apparel costs are rising in the US. 


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