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Camping & Hiking

Turtle Fur hits the selling block

The 39-year-old outdoor accessories brand has hired an advisory firm and is actively soliciting a strategic buyer to take it “to the next level.”

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A longtime, iconic outdoor brand is looking for a new owner that can take it “to the next level.”

Turtle Fur, the 39-year-old privately held accessories brand based in Morrisville, Vt., this week announced it is on the lookout for a strategic buyer after the owner for the last 20 years decided to sell the company.

“It has been 20 amazing years since the ownership torch was passed to me by Turtle Fur’s founders, Millie and John Merrill,” said Richard Sontag, Turtle Fur’s owner. “I am very fortunate to have such a caring, strong, and dedicated team who successfully navigated the company through the pandemic, a hungry and loyal sales force, and a supportive and ever-growing customer base. It has been a privilege to be able to continuously develop unique and affordable products that are loved worldwide.”

The brand was founded in 1982 when it invented the ubiquitous fleece neck warmer. In the four decades since, Turtle Fur has gone international with a full spectrum of outdoor, ski, and snowboard accessories. Its products are sold in numerous chain and specialty outdoor shops around the globe.

To facilitate the sale, Turtle Fur hired Vermont-based Venture 7 Advisors to help “find a philosophically aligned buyer to take Turtle Fur to the next level.”

Added Venture 7 in its listing of Turtle Fur, “In keeping with its brand values, the privately held company is transparent about its intentions and has involved its incredible team in supporting this goal. The right buyer will continue Turtle Fur’s commitment to the B Corp model, with goals surrounding social sustainability, environmental performance, and accountability standards. They will continue with Turtle Fur’s commitment to public transparency regarding its practices and annual B Corp score. The right buyer will have a love for the outdoors and a respect for what it means to be a Vermont-based company.”

The fact that a brand like Turtle Fur has hit the selling block shouldn’t come as a surprise. M&A has accelerated as the economy comes out of its pandemic funk, and activity is slowly picking up across the outdoor space as valuations rise amid a gear and apparel sales boom.

Longtime owners looking to get out are finding that the time is right to sell. In the last few months, for example, the industry has seen several deals involving public and private buyers. Here is a list of some notable sales since April:

Where will Turtle Fur land? Will a public, private, or PE buyer emerge? Watch this space for details on the brand’s new ownership, whoever that might be. And look for more coverage of industry consolidation in Outside Business Journal—including trends and tips for buyers and sellers—in the coming weeks.