Bobby Jones is switching teams.
This story first appeared in the May 20, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Waitt Co., an Omaha-based firm with investments in activewear brands Prince, Viking and Tapout, has reached an agreement to acquire all of the operating assets of the Bobby Jones golfwear business. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Waitt will take over the business from W Diamond Group Corp., a New York-based company owned by Doug Williams, the former chief executive officer of HMX Group, and his family. As part of the deal, Bobby Jones’ heirs and W Diamond have agreed to provide Waitt with a long-term license for the exclusive use of the Bobby Jones brand globally for apparel, golf equipment and related products and accessories.
Waitt will operate the Bobby Jones business under a newly formed affiliate, Jones Global Sports, and Williams will join Jones’ board. Andy Bell, the current president of Bobby Jones, has been promoted to ceo of Jones Global Sports.
Williams said he was attracted to Waitt’s “approach to brands and its commitment to the people connected to building and protecting the value of a premium brand. After meeting with [Waitt ceo] Dana Bradford a couple of times, it was clear to me the Waitt organization and all the resources at their disposal, was the right fit for Bobby Jones brand, the Jones family and the legacy of Bobby Jones the individual.”
Bradford said the plan was to protect and expand the brand globally “in a manner consistent with the legacy of Bobby Jones. We look forward to moving the Bobby Jones brand forward in partnership with management.”
After the deal, W Diamond will continue to produce Hickey Freeman, Hart Schaffner Marx and Exclusively Misook. A couple of weeks ago, Western Glove Works, the Winnipeg, Canada-based owner of Silver Jeans Co., acquired Simply Blue, marketers of the Jag Jeans and Christopher Blue denim brands, from W Diamond.
Williams told WWD Sunday: “These transactions have allowed W Diamond Group Corp. to pay down substantial debt and focus on its core business.”
Reports continue to circulate that Authentic Brands Group, which bought the intellectual property of HMX Group and entered into a long-term license to operate them with W Diamond, is negotiating with Samuelsohn of Toronto to acquire the Hickey Freeman brand.