Fanatics Brands continues to expand its reach.
The country’s largest retailer of licensed sports merchandise has acquired some of the assets, inventory and college licensing rights of Vetta Brands. This includes its Top of the World division, the number-one licensed collegiate headwear manufacturer that produces hats for several hundred universities.
On Aug. 17, Vetta began liquidating assets, cut more than 200 employees and Top of the World effectively ceased operations.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Fanatics said it paid off all of the company’s debt to its overseas factories. It also took over Top of the World’s 220,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Norman, Okla., and brought back the 200 employees.
Fanatics stressed that the deal does not include all of Vetta’s operations, specifically its blank apparel division, which represented about half of the company’s business. What it does include is college headwear rights for more than 600 schools as well as headwear and apparel rights for several dozen schools in the mass channel, Fanatics said.
In addition, Scott Shuler, Top of the World’s president, who has more than three decades of experience in the licensed sports industry, will continue to run that business as senior vice president of Fanatics Brands. He will report to Joe Bozich, president of Fanatics Brands.
“The purchase of the Top of the World assets gives Fanatics Brands a turnkey center of excellence in licensed headwear, extensive apparel rights and immediate scale to become an even more important partner to our retailers,” Bozich said. “We are proud to have saved over 200 jobs with this move and keep alive this 30-plus-year trusted brand.”
Last month, Fanatics raised $350 million in Series E financing to increase its value to $6.2 billion. Fanatics, which had sales of $2.5 billion last year, according to published reports, has raised $1.5 billion since 2011 and has been aggressively expanding its e-commerce and merchandising agreements with professional and amateur sports leagues both in the U.S. and overseas. Despite rumors that the company is preparing an initial public offering, a Fanatics spokesperson said there are no formal plans to go public, and the company is focusing on building its business.
In 2017, Fanatics acquired the Majestic sportswear manufacturing business from VF Corp. for $225 million. It also has a deal with Kohl’s to sell team apparel, jerseys and other items from professional and college leagues on its web site, and it works with Walmart to run a shop-in-shop on that retailer’s e-commerce site. It also operates the NBA flagship store in Manhattan.
Integrating Top of the World’s “headwear manufacturing expertise, inventory and key personnel into our Fanatics Brands division adds more capabilities to our vertical model and allows us to elevate our promise of having the industry’s largest assortment of best-in-class products that are always readily available to fans, partners, and retailers,” Fanatics said.