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Sibling rivalry: Top 15 multi-brand outdoor companies

Do you know your Amer from your Wolverine? Read OBJ' ranking of the top outdoor parent companies to see if you really know who owns what — and how much they make.

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Even if you’re new to the industry, you’re likely familiar with outdoor brands such as The North Face, SmartWool and Eagle Creek.

But how well do you know VF Corp., the parent company that owns all three of the above brands and nearly a dozen others in the outdoor market?

Similarly, you might know that K2 and Marker are wintersports siblings, but do you know the family lines expand to Marmot, Coleman and ExOfficio — all under Jarden Corp.?

While individual brands are plentiful in the outdoor industry, the landscape becomes a tad smaller once you step back to look at who owns whom. And with a recent uptick in outdoor mergers and acquisitions, the families are growing.

The relations aren’t contained within the industry, either. For example, The North Face is second cousins with Wrangler Jeans. And we wonder if Marmot hangs out with its distant relative Mr. Coffee at holiday parties.

On the flip side, several brands you think must be related — because of a name or logo — are not. GoLite and GoLite Footwear (the latter owned by New England Footwear) have identical logos and all, but are no longer brothers. And Easton Mountain Products remains family-owned and independent from the larger Easton-Bell Sports, which was sold off in 2006. Other similar brand names are loosely related. Patagonia doesn’t make Patagonia Footwear, for example — Wolverine Worldwide has the global license to design, make, market and sell the footwear — but the two companies still partner on initiatives for the products.

To help straighten all the relations out, Outside Business Journal brings you our top 15 outdoor families, ranked by reported or estimated outdoor group annual sales.

1. VF Corp.
The North Face, Timberland, Vans, JanSport, Kipling, SmartWool, Napapijri, EastPak, Eagle Creek, Lucy, Vans and Reef
VF Corp. has become an industry powerhouse. Its Outdoor and Action Sports segment pulled in $5.7 billion in sales in 2012, and now represents more than half of its diverse apparel and footwear business. VF Corp. Vice President Steve Rendle heads the group and recently opened new headquarters in Alameda, Calif., where The North Face, Lucy and JanSport share offices.
Other notable relations: Nautica, Lee Jeans and Wrangler Jeans

2. Jarden Corp.
Marmot, Coleman, ExOfficio, K2, Marker, Volkl, Madshus, Atlas Snowshoes, Tubbs Snowshoes, Ride Snowboards, Backcountry Access and Zoot Sports
Jarden Corp. exemplifies a diverse portfolio of brands mixing a variety of outdoor pursuits with everyday consumer items. Its Outdoor Solutions group, which includes several team sport and fishing brands, reported $2.7 billon in sales in 2012. And earlier this year, Jarden’s K2 brand acquired avalanche-safety expert Backcountry Access.
Other notable relations: Rawlings, Penn, Berkley Fishing, Aerobed, Mr. Coffee and Oster.

3. Columbia Sportswear
Columbia, Mountain Hardwear, Sorel and Montrail
Unlike some of its competitors, Columbia’s collection of brands are all outdoor. That can lend it added outdoor cred, but also dependency on the ebb and flow of outdoor consumer, as evidenced last winter. The company is looking to beef up its spring/summer products to at least better balance out the seasons. In 2012, sales totaled $1.67 billion.

4. Amer Sports
Arc’teryx, Salomon, Atomic and Suunto
Amer Sports and its outdoor brands are all over the globe. The parent company and Suunto are based in Finland; Salomon is based in France; Arc’teryx is Canadian; Atomic is in Austria. Its Winter and Outdoor division pulled in EUR 1.22 billion ($1.57 billion) in 2012.
Other notable relations: Wilson and Precor Fitness

5. Wolverine Worldwide
Merrell, Saucony, Chaco, Patagonia Footwear, Wolverine and Cushe
Wolverine continues to become a larger player in the outdoor footwear market thanks to category leader Merrell and the recent acquisition of Saucony. Wolverine’s Outdoor Group recorded $545 million in sales in 2012, minus Saucony.
Other notable relations: Sperry Top-Sider, Stride Rite and Keds

6. Tecnica Group
Tecnica, Lowa, Nordica, Dolomite and Blizzard
Tecnica Group is one of the largest outdoor and wintersports footwear manufacturers in Europe and continues to make inroads in the United Sates with its cadre of brands. In 2012, the family-owned Italian company further stressed its worldwide expansion, tapping its top U.S. executive Peter Weaver as its new CEO of the global firm. Tecnica Group reported EUR 394 million ($506 million) in sales for its fiscal 2011/12 year.
Other notable relations: Moon Boot and Rollerblade

7. Adidas Group

Adidas Outdoor and Five Ten
Sporting goods powerhouse Adidas re-entered the outdoor category in Europe in 2009, followed by the United States debut in 2011. With a variety of quality and innovative new apparel and footwear, in addition to its Five Ten acquisition, Adidas proved it wasn’t going to “phone it in” when it came to outdoor. Based on previous reports and performance, OBJ estimates Adidas Outdoor’s 2012 sales somewhere in the $300 million range.
Other notable relations: Adidas, Reebok, TaylorMade and Rockport.

8. Scott Sports
Scott keeps it simple with a single brand name. But in reality, the company has expanded from its birth in 1958 with aluminum skis poles, to become a substantial player through acquiring and integrating brands in the outdoor, wintersports, biking, motosports and running markets. Its most recent purchase was Garmont’s North American distribution, along with Garmont’s global ski boot business — the latter already rebranded under the Scott name. There are no official financial releases for Scott Sports, nor category revenue breakdowns, but various sources estimate the Switzerland-based company’s total annual sales anywhere between $300 million to $400 million.

9. Lafuma Group

Lafuma, Millet, Eider and Oxbow
The Lafuma Group is another collection of outdoor brands well known across the pond and looking to expand in the United States. The Lafuma brand pulled back its apparel and footwear sales in the United States a few years ago, but maintained its U.S. furniture sales and is entering the sleeping bag category here. Meanwhile, Millet has moved in for the parent company to cover the spectrum of outdoor footwear, apparel and equipment in the United States, along with increased apparel lines from Eider. The entire group reported EUR 224.5 million ($288 million) in annual sales for its fiscal 2011/12 year.

10. OberAlp Group (Salewa Group)
Salewa, Dynafit, Silvretta, Pomoca and Wild Country
Salewa and Dynafit have made names for themselves in the United States serving the niche alpine footwear and backcountry wintersports boot and equipment markets, respectively. But in Europe, Salewa is a big brand with a full line of outdoor apparel and equipment, which is about as prevalent as The North Face over there. All the brands are overseen by the OberAlp Group, headquarterd in Bolzano, Italy and owned by the Oberrauch family. The company recently acquired Wild Country to add to its Salewa Group, and it separately handles European distribution for brands such as Rip Curl, Flow Snowboards and Speedo. Financial information is a bit sparse, but the Salewa Group reported EUR 165 million ($211 million) in sales for 2010, which likely has grown toward EUR 200 million ($256 million) in annual sales by the end of 2012.

11. Sun Capital Partners (American Rec)

Kelty, Sierra Designs, Ultimate Directions, Isis, Slumberjack, Wenzel and Rokk
Sometimes you have to go up a few levels to find a brand’s ultimate owner. Kelty and Sierra Designs, for example, are part of the outdoor family at American Rec, which is in turn is owned by Sun Capital Partners, a private equity portfolio of more than 315 brands with $45 billion in annual sales. That’s a big family! As a privately-held group, the company does not release brand, or even group specific financial results. A very rough estimate places American Rec here on our list, but it could rank higher or lower.
Other notable relations: Boston Market, Gordmans and The Limited

12. Black Diamond Inc.
Black Diamond Equipment, Gregory Mountain Products, Poc Sports and Pieps
Black Diamond, with history stemming from Yvon Chouinard’s Patagonia’s family more than 50 years ago, has begun building a family of its own. In 2010, Clarus Corp. acquired the brand along with Gregory Mountain Products and took on the name Black Diamond Inc. From there, the combined public company, overall by Peter Metcalf, raised money and added Poc Sports and Pieps in 2012. Future acquisitions are possible, but subsequent growth is expected to be organic, such as the launch of Black Diamond apparel this fall. The growing family of outdoor brands reported $176 million in sales in 2012 and expects between $216-$221 million in 2013.

13. Deckers Outdoor Corp.
Teva, Ahnu and Hoka One One
Deckers is best known for its Ugg brand, but its top players the outdoor industry include Teva and Ahnu. Just this week, Deckers acquired running performance brand Hoka One One. Teva reported $115 million in sales for 2012.
Other notable relations: Ugg and Sanuk

14. Cascade Designs
MSR, Therm-a-rest, SealLine, Platypus, E-Case, PackTowl, Hummingbird and Tracks
On a list of multi-million and multi-billion dollar companies mostly owned by Wall Street and private equity, Cascade Designs stands out as a rare multi-brand outdoor player that remains family-owned. The industry could use a few more like them. The private company does not release its fiancial results, but several sources estimate annual sales between $70 million and $100 million.

15. Johnson Outdoors

Eureka, Silva and Jetboil
The bulk of Johnson Outdoors’ revenue comes from its Marine Electronic, Diving and Watercraft category sales, but its Outdoor group brought in a respectable $35.3 million in 2012. The company estimates its recent Jetboil acquisition will add another $10 million a year to the group, and if you added in its Watercraft category (sold by many specialty outdoor retailers) sales would near $100 million a year.
Other notable relations: Old Town, Ocean Kayak, Necky and Hummingbird

A few other outdoor families are worth noting:

>> Switzerland’s Katadyn Group is looking to become a bigger player in the outdoor camp kitchen arena with the Katadyn, Optimus, Acquafides and Trek’n Eat brands under its tent, along with recently acquired Natural High, Richmoor, AlpineAire Foods und Gourmet Reserves camp food brands at its North American subsidiary.

>> Britain’s Equip Outdoor Technologies owns Rab, Lowe Alpine and Integral Designs.

>> Germany’s Schwan-Stabilo Group, best known for its pens, pencils and writing products, owns Deuter and Ortovox.

>> Investment trio Bill Gamber, Len Zanni and Rich Hager own Big Agnes and Honey Stinger. The group also distributes the Helinox brand in North America.

>> And there are plenty of other multi-brand parent companies that make outdoor products (e.g. Redwing owns Vasque; Compass Diversified Holdings owns CamelBak and Maui Jim owns Zeal Optics), but we tried to keep our list to those who had a group of outdoor specialty brands.

(Editor’s note: a previous version of this story incorrectly stated the relationship between Patagonia and Patagonia Footwear).