Nike: One Brand Sold; One to Go

The company reached a deal to sell Umbro to Iconix Brand Group and is expecting bids from buyers for Cole Haan.

Nike Inc. has sold soccer brand Umbro to Iconix Brand Group Inc. at a discount to its purchase price in 2008, and is expecting bids today for footwear and accessories brand Cole Haan.

This story first appeared in the October 25, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Nike said in May it was divesting the two brands to “sharpen its focus on driving growth in the Nike, Jordan, Converse and Hurley brands.”

In September, when the Cole Haan auction entered its second round, Apax Partners, TPG Capital, Leonard Green & Partners and Genesco Inc. were said to be in the running.

Since then, Apax and TPG continue to remain interested, financial sources said. Sycamore Partners, which acquired The Talbots Inc. this year and a 51 percent stake in sourcing firm Mast Global Fashions last year, is also said to be bidding for Cole Haan. It couldn’t be determined whether Leonard Green advanced to the next round of bidding, although Genesco is believed to have dropped out.

Nike is asking $500 million for Cole Haan, which it acquired in 1988 for $95 million, consisting of $80 million in cash and $15 million in debt. For the fiscal year ended May 31, Cole Haan’s revenues rose 3 percent to $535 million. The brand has 109 U.S. stores and another 69 doors abroad.

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If Nike could get its asking price for Cole Haan, that would offset the loss it took in the Umbro sale.

Iconix has inked an agreement to buy Umbro for $225 million, or a $357 million discount to the $582 million that Nike paid for the brand in 2008.

Iconix said Wednesday that the transaction, which includes the intellectual property assets, is expected to close by the end of the year. The brand-management firm also said it would disclose details of the transaction on Tuesday, when the company reports third-quarter earnings.

Umbro is a British soccer lifestyle brand founded in 1924 by brothers Harold and Wallace Humphreys.

Neil Cole, chief executive officer of Iconix, said, “Umbro is an exciting acquisition with more than 30 licensees in over 100 countries, with a devout following. We look forward to working with our international partners to maintain and expand upon the rich heritage of the brand.”

Nike Inc. president and ceo Mark Parker said that as Nike’s category strategy has evolved, the company believes “Nike Football can serve the needs of footballers both on and off the pitch.”

Iconix said the latest acquisition to the company’s brand umbrella will together generate “$13 billion in retail sales globally, with more than $2.5 billion attributable to the company’s portfolio of athletic brands, which also includes Starter and Danskin.”

Umbro is the second deal between Iconix and Nike. Iconix acquired the Starter brand from Nike in 2007.