Golf and luxury apparel maker Peter Millar has a new majority owner.

The Sea Island Co., the family-owned real estate corporation that manages the Cloister resort in Georgia, has sold its 60 percent stake in Peter Millar to Winona Capital Management, a Chicago-based investment group.

This story first appeared in the April 7, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Terms were not disclosed, but the cash deal leaves 40 percent of the company in the hands of the brand’s two managing principals, founder Chris Knott and chief executive officer Scott Mahoney.

“With Winona we found a partner who didn’t want to change our strategy,” said Mahoney. “They’ve embraced the management and our goals.”

Launched eight years ago, Peter Millar’s mix of fairway-friendly sportswear and moderately priced styles for men and women is sold to about 300 specialty stores and nearly 1,000 green grass and resort shops around the country.

According to Mahoney, the brand has built on double-digit annual sales growth and in the last 18 months has expanded into new categories, such as men’s tailored clothing and furnishings, and international markets. Sources estimate the company’s annual volume at between $25 million and $35 million.

“This company has shown steady growth, has a solid distribution base and product that consumers love,” said Luke Reese, Winona’s managing director. “This year is a tough year for investment but when companies like this come up you have to buy when they are for sale.”

While Reese said Winona will adopt a hands-off approach to managing the brand, the firm will help Peter Millar ramp up its overseas distribution. Licensing deals or joint partnerships in Asia and Europe could be inked by mid-summer. “There’s significant upside for this brand abroad,” Reese added.

Mahoney said the Cary, N.C.-based company is continuing to post good numbers at home. The brand added 60 new doors for fall and is projected to top 2008’s results this year.

Winona Capital, which has more than $125 million under management, also has stakes in Truefitt & Hill, a line of men’s grooming products; Boloco, a Mexican restaurant concept, and Balle de Match, a maker of tennis apparel.

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