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Camping & Hiking

Eddie Bauer’s new ownership group eyes expansion for the retailer

The outdoor brand and retailer has a new parent company, SPARC Group LLC, a joint venture of PE-backed Authentic Brands Group and mall operator Simon Property Group. This is what SPARC has in mind for the company.

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Twelve years after being rescued from bankruptcy by a private equity firm, longtime outdoor brand and retailer Eddie Bauer finds itself with a new PE-backed owner that boasts some other well-known active lifestyle assets in its portfolio.

Authentic Brands Group LLC (ABG) and mall operator Simon Property Group Inc. announced last week that they’re acquiring the Bellevue, Wash.-based company. Officially, Authentic and SPARC Group LLC—a venture backed by brand manager Authentic and Simon—will purchase Eddie Bauer from an affiliate of Golden Gate Capital. The financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

ABG will own the clothing brand’s intellectual property and Eddie Bauer will become a part of SPARC’s portfolio of brands once the deal closes, which is expected to happen by June. SPARC’s portfolio includes Aéropostale, Brooks Brothers, Forever 21, Lucky Brand, and Nautica.

Growth plans for Eddie Bauer

Once Eddied Bauer is on board, its new parent company will be rolling out some ambitious growth plans.

ABG said it “will tap into the essence of Eddie Bauer and leverage the brand’s technical performance attributes to extend into new outdoor categories and distribution. International growth is an important part of the brand strategy, with territory expansion opportunities in LATAM, Europe, and APAC. Near-term launches in China and Korea will drive the initial phase of that growth. Eddie Bauer also has a proven history in non-traditional categories and ABG will continue to expand the brand into other product lines suited for all of life’s outdoor adventures.”

Eddie Bauer, which last year celebrated its centennial, has 300 stores across the U.S. and Canada, but the company found success during the pandemic by pivoting to online sales, with nearly half of its retail revenue in 2020 coming through e-commerce.

Read more: To celebrate its 100th anniversary, Eddie Bauer launches new inclusion initiative

While harboring big plans for growing Eddie Bauer, the new owner said not much will change structurally with the company. The brand will remain headquartered in Seattle and its current president, Damien Huang, will retain his leadership role.

“Eddie Bauer has a 100-year history of unparalleled authority in the outdoor space,” said Jamie Salter, founder, chairman, and CEO of ABG. “The global outdoor market opportunity has grown exponentially over the last year and we are ready to hit the ground running and guide this brand into new frontiers in partnership with SPARC, Damien, and the rest of the Eddie Bauer team.”

Huang said the goal for Eddie Bauer now is to leverage the momentum of the past year and take the brand to the new heights outlined in the parent company’s expansion plans.

“As an iconic brand dedicated to making the outdoors more accessible and enjoyable for everyone, Eddie Bauer has built up great momentum,” he said. “I am proud of our team’s achievements to better position Eddie Bauer to compete and win in a digitally driven, omnichannel world. We are excited to partner with ABG and SPARC, who recognize the significant opportunities ahead, and are well-positioned to help us maximize the brand’s full potential and expand our global presence as a leader among outdoor and active brands. On behalf of the entire Eddie Bauer team, we are deeply grateful for the support of Golden Gate Capital, who has been instrumental in guiding our strategy and accelerating Eddie Bauer’s growth over the course of our partnership.”