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Everybody wins: Implus acquires Penguin Brands shoe care assets, Penguin rebrands

Implus makes seventh acquisition, Nathan becomes standalone company.

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Implus and Penguin Brands are fierce rivals no longer. Implus announced it has acquired the shoe care assets from Penguin Brands for an undisclosed amount.

With the acquisition, Penguin Brands’ Nathan running essentials will become a standalone company called Nathan Sports. Implus takes over shoe care assets such as Tectron water repellent.

It’s a win-win situation, officials from both companies said.

“We’re always looking for acquisitions to complement our business,” said Implus President Todd Vore. “Honestly, it was a no-brainer.”

“We felt this was really the right time to allow us to focus our efforts on our running essentials in Nathan,” said Nathan Sports (formerly Penguin Brands) CEO Bridgit Lombard. “This is a win for our retail customers. They will be very well served by Implus.”

The rebranded Nathan Sports and will encompass Nathan hydration products, Penguin Sport Wash (which will be rebranded with the Nathan name) and the licensing of New Balance-branded water bottles and accessories. The company also will continue to distribute its lock laces.

Nathan, which manufactures hydration packs, handheld products and visibility items for runners, has grown 40 percent in the last nine years, Lombard said.

“Now that we have our resources solely focused on the Nathan brand, we will be able to accelerate that growth in an even greater way,” Lombard said.

Penguin, which has been around for 38 years, will remain — though now as Nathan Sports — a privately owned company headed by chairman Jon Reichlin. Reichlin also will remain involved as a consultant to and investor in Implus.

“It’s a great thing when you can sell assets that can help strengthen the company’s entire financial position, as well as the focus on the growing business of Nathan,” Lombard said. “We now have the focus, team and resources to do that. We’re excited about what this means for retail customers, Implus and the existing Nathan team.”

It should be a relatively smooth transition, Vore said. The inventory will be transferred later this month and the company will start shipping products under the Implus name on July 29.

No staffing reductions are planned at either Nathan Sports or Implus. There will be two additions to Implus from the former Penguin Brands, Ted Roberto and Rob Noble, who previously were key account directors for Penguin Brands.

“They’ve been moved to Implus to continue to manage the portfolio of businesses for them,” Lombard said.

Greg Stryker, marketing manager for Implus, said that the company may look to add support positions in the future.

The acquisition, Vore said, demonstrates Implus’ commitment to the growth of the shoe care category. The company’s booth at the upcoming Outdoor Retailer Summer Market will showcase some of its new assets — but mostly Tectron, a footwear water repellent.

“We’re looking forward to having the Tectron brand there, as we see that rand has the most potential for outdoor shoe care,” Stryker said.

It’s acquisition No. 7 for Implus, which also has fitness assets like Perfect Fitness, makers of the Perfect Pushup and Perfect Pullup, among other products, and New Balance sport monitors.

“We’re having a tremendous amount of success with the Perfect Fitness acquisition, and we’ll be adding to that line,” Vore said.

Implus, headquartered in North Carolina, also manufactures Sof Sole, Yaktrax, apara, Airplus, Sneaker Balls, Sof Comfort, Little Hotties and ICETrekkers.