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Sunday, June 16, 2024

New Era’s Acquisition of ’47 Set to Reshape Sports Apparel Market

  • New Era is set to acquire ’47 in a deal creating a combined operation with $2 billion in annual revenue.
  • Two of the longest-running and most entrenched makers of licensed sports league headwear and apparel are coming together in a deal poised to reshape the market significantly.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Two of the longest-running and most entrenched makers of licensed sports league headwear and apparel are coming together in a deal poised to reshape the market significantly.

Buffalo-based New Era Cap—which has ties to the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and hundreds of colleges—is acquiring key competitor and fashion brand ’47. Headquartered in Massachusetts, ’47 was started in 1947 by twin brothers Arthur and Henry D’Angelo, while the Koch family has led New Era across four generations since its 1920 founding. 

Financial terms were not disclosed for this deal bringing together the two venerable companies. But New Era said the combined operation is projected to generate about $2 billion in annual revenue. Both the New Era and ’47 brands will be retained, and a deal closing is targeted by the end of the year.

“Our two companies have a shared history, having begun as family businesses dating back generations and transforming through passion and hard work into globally recognized brands,” New Era CEO Chris Koch said in a statement. “Through this transaction, we will offer a breadth of products across both brands and enhance how we serve our customers and partners around the world.”

Investment Matters

ACON Investments, a private equity firm that bought into New Era in 2021, will maintain a “significant stake” in the combined company. 

The agreement will give New Era greater scale, particularly as the entire licensed sports merchandise business continues to see widespread consolidation, much of it through the aggressiveness of Fanatics into additional areas.

Last fall, Reuters reported that New Era was considering an initial public offering worth as much as $5 billion. That potential of a stock issue still exists but, if it happens, will likely be at a higher figure.

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