Black Diamond chairman Warren Kanders acquires Mountain Khakis

Mountain Khakis stays privately held with co-founder Ross Saldarini as president. New owner sees potential in retail, women's and international sales.

Warren B. Kanders, the executive chairman of Black Diamond Inc. has acquired “substantially all of the assets and business of Mountain Khakis LLC,” from previous majority owner Remington Arms Company, officials announced Thursday morning.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Mountain Khakis, based out of Charlotte, N.C. with design and development offices in Jackson Hole, Wyo., will fall under Kander’s privately held Kanders & Company Inc., and the brand’s co-founder Ross Saldarini will continue to serve as president.

Although Kanders will share the same title of chairman for Mountain Khakis as he does with Black Diamond Inc., Mountain Khakis will be separately operated from the Black Diamond family of outdoor brands, which is publically owned (NYSE:BDE) and seeking a buyer.

Founded in 2003, Mountain Khakis focuses on premium branded lifestyle apparel and accessories inspired by mountain life. It was owned by its founders, friends and family until Remington made its investment in 2010.

Gray Hudkins, a principal with Kanders & Co. and formerly the CEO of Gregory from 2009 to 2010, told SNEWS that Kanders has been following the Mountain Khakis for awhile. The new owner sees numerous areas of potential to grow the brand, including: opening additional doors in the specialty retail market, expanding the brand’s greater efforts within the women’s category, and building a stronger international market off Mountain Khaki’s authentic American products.

“The fact that you have the founder of the business [Saldarini] still on board at this stage is a great asset and unique for brand like this,” Hudkins further noted. “He brings a lot of enthusiasm.”

Saldarini told SNEWS he’s in it for the long haul with Mountain Khakis. “I love it, he said. “I love the fact that we get to play on a big playing field with a great partner against great brands. This is a great next challenge for us.” The business has grown more than 30 percent each year, he said.

Saldarini added that he’s bullish on specialty retail and will continue to make it a central focus for the brand. “The days of going to a specialty otudoor retailer just to buy technical gear are over. They’ve become technical, social and lifestyle centers for our community. Younger customers are increasingly seeking the products that specialty retailers are offering,” he said.

Hudkins said Mountain Khakis likely will remain a privately held company. “This is not a business that needs public capital,” he said. “There’s zero debt and we’ve made sure to invest plenty of excess capital to work with.”

Stay tuned to SNEWS for more on this breaking news.

–David Clucas