Authentic Brands Group has added another well-known brand to its stable, acquiring a 51 percent stake in Frye from Global Brands Group Holding Ltd. for a reported $100 million.
The deal marks the first time that ABG and Global Brands will co-own a brand although the two companies have worked together on growing other ABG-owned labels including Juicy Couture, Jones New York and Spyder.
“Frye is an American legacy brand which has been synonymous with quality and style for more than a century,” said Jamie Salter, chairman and chief executive officer of ABG. “Global Brands is an incredible business partner.” Salter went on to express enthusiasm about forming a partnership with “such an esteemed brand.”
According to the companies, they will expand Frye into new categories that complement the brand’s core product line, including apparel. Salter said he sees enormous opportunity in outerwear, sportswear, sweaters, bags, soft home and possibly even hard home. “Sportswear, particularly denim, can be very big,” he said. “And I can see a great, comfy Frye leather chair.”
Additionally, the companies will grow Frye’s global retail presence by adding stand-alone stores and in-store shops. The company operates 13 stores around the U.S. and three additional stores are slated to open in July. Salter said there is talk about adding another 11 on top of that, although nothing has been confirmed.
“But the biggest opportunity is international,” he said, noting that 40 percent of ABG’s business comes from outside the U.S. The Middle East, Asia, Mexico and Europe are among the most viable markets, he said. Expanding Frye’s e-commerce, which accounts for 20 percent of its revenue, is also in the cards, Salter said.
Under the terms of the deal, the Hong Kong-based Global Brands will continue to operate and manage Frye’s existing retail and wholesale businesses.
“It’s a very, very strong brand and people like it,” Salter said. “It has a great history and a ton of bandwidth to grow it into multiple categories.”
Frye’s history dates back to 1863 when John A. Frye opened his first store in Marlboro, Mass., and the company’s first boot was created in 1888. The brand today offers men’s, women’s and children’s shoes, bags and accessories and in addition to its own stores and e-commerce site, is carried in Nordstrom, Dillard’s, Bloomingdale’s and other retailers.
Frye was acquired by Li & Fung in 2010, and has been under the Global Brands umbrella since 2014 when Global Brands spunoff from Li & Fung as an independently listed company.
The addition of Frye, which follows the recent purchase of the Greg Norman brand, brings ABG’s portfolio of labels to over $5 billion in global retail sales.