Wolverine World Wide Inc. has announced that it acquired Sweaty Better, the global brand for fitness and lifestyle, in an all-cash transaction worth $410million. The brand, based in London, is on a mission of empowering women with its size- and race-inclusive messages.
Brendan Hoffman of Wolverine Worldwide stated that “Sweaty Beatty aligns perfectly to our strategic growth strategy for Wolverine Worldwide as we focus upon growing digital channels and expanding our international footprint and building out our brand portfolio beyond footwear.” “Sweaty Betty is a combination of her experience and focus on women and apparel as well best-in-class digital execution. This has been a winning combination. We are proud to support the brand’s growth and learn from its digital-first mindset, and leverage that strength across our portfolio.
Wolverine Worldwide manages one of the most extensive portfolios of lifestyle and footwear brands in the world. Hoffman said, “It was what attracted me towards Wolverine.” “Sweaty Betty stretches who we are. Hiring me to become the next CEO will hurt who Wolverine truly is. Sweaty Betty’s style and fashion-driven personality are what Hoffman meant by his experience as a retailer CEO and president of Bon Ton Group.
Keds, Hush Puppies, Merrell, Saucony, Stride Rite Sperry, Harley-Davidson HOG +1.8% footwear, and Wolverine are Wolverine Worldwide brands. Sweaty Betty was started in 1998. The brand’s innovative tops and bottoms and outerwear, swimwear, and accessories have cultivated loyal fans. Over 80% of Sweaty Betty’s revenues are generated through direct-to-consumer channels. This allows the brand to build strong connections with its passionate consumers.
Hoffman announced that Sweaty Betty’s 2019 sales would be $350 Million. He also said that the business has more than doubled since 2019.
Hoffman stated, “We know that we must think directly-to-consumer” and go beyond footwear. “We are doing it organically, as well as through mergers or acquisitions. Sweaty Betty has its own company, unlike the last significant purchase that was made from Payless.
Hoffman explained that the integration of Sweaty Betty and Wolverine Worldwide would require creating co-branded products for both the activewear label and WWW’s brands. He said, “For sure, we’re looking to do collaboratives together.” “A Merrell collaboration had been in the works and was happening before this acquisition. Saucony, Keds, and Merrell will cross-pollinate via partnerships.
“The acquisition Sweaty Betty compliments our recent strategic shift over several years from a conventional footwear wholesaler to a consumer-obsessed and digital-focused growth business. “Wolverine Worldwide is a long-standing and highly successful company that has acquired and built brands such as Sweaty Betty.
“I would be happy if we were the only financial sponsor. With their growth trajectory and our ability to bring to bear our retail and footwear capabilities, we’re now a $2.5B company. We would be delighted if they only leaned into us and got apparel into our brands.
Julia Straus (Sweaty Betty CEO) will continue to lead the brand. Hoffman will report to Straus. Straus said, “Sweaty Betty is experiencing incredible growth over recent years. We’re excited about continuing this growth as part of our Wolverine Worldwide family.” “I knew that Wolverine Worldwide was the right partner to help us move on from the moment I met them. Their expertise and portfolio of purpose-driven heritage brands and knowledge and expertise in international distribution and supply chain expertise provide a strong platform for Sweaty Betty’s expansion and further our mission to empower more women through exercise around the globe.
Hoffman and Strau have stores in mind. Hoffman explained that Sweet Betty owned several stores in Greenwich (Conn.), Manhattan, and other places, but she closed them when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. “This is an excellent opportunity to build the store portfolio. Julia and Wolverine will be very interested in stores.
Hoffman stated that “The digital business continues its growth by leaps and bounds.” Sweaty Bety also has a partnership with Nordstrom JWN+1%, which gives it a premier spot on the activewear floor.
Hoffman claimed that Wolverine would allow Sweaty Betty to expand into other product categories. “We’re going to bring Sweaty Betty shoes to life,” Hoffman said. “They want to expand in other categories, including Sweaty Betty shoes. It’s exciting for a band so young and exciting to be able to offer these capabilities. We are filled with joy and confidence from all the positive feedback we receive from industry people.”