Making official the story SNEWS® broke Jan. 7 (click here to read “Merrell's parent Wolverine in due diligence to acquire Chaco”), Wolverine World Wide announced early Thursday morning Jan. 22 that it had completed the acquisition of Chaco, a performance outdoor footwear brand based in Paonia, Colo. Ulu, a winter footwear brand owned by Chaco also becomes part of the Wolverine World Wide Outdoor Group, alongside Merrell and Patagonia Footwear. Terms of the deal were not announced. Silver Steep Partners served as exclusive financial advisor to Chaco in its sale to Wolverine
In an exclusive interview with SNEWS®, Scott Sible, president of the Outdoor Group, said, “We are very excited about this opportunity, which is not so dissimilar from when Wolverine first acquired Merrell many years ago.Like Merrell was then, Chaco is an underfunded brand with great global potential.”
When asked about the future of the Paonia headquarters, Sible said, “All Chaco employees are being offered employment while we work together with the Chaco team to establish a long-term strategic vision and strategy.”
In reference to SNEWS’ comment in its Jan. 7 story that Mark Paigen, Chaco’s founder and CEO, was as important to the brand as milk was to Cheerios, Sible confirmed Paigen would continue with the brand under the new ownership for at least another three years.
“Our first and most important task, and one that will be completed quickly and efficiently, is to ensure that all 2009 product for spring and fall is delivered on time and as ordered,” Sible told us.
As for what retailers can now expect from Chaco, Sible stated, “Good delivery, great sales and customer service support, and an extensive product line.”
“We will be relying on the Chaco team to deliver the Chaco product for 2009 as designed, but future product will be a full collaboration of Chaco design expertise with the Wolverine Outdoor Group team,” Sible said. “Retailers should expect to see consistency of product flow from season-to-season with innovation as it pertains to product materials, design and color.”
Sible allowed that Wolverine, because of its size, expects to be able to assist Chaco to establish more prominence in existing factory relationships, supply chain management, and materials sourcing and pricing.
SNEWS® View: Just over five years ago, Jacques Lavertue, president of Wolverine Outdoor until his untimely passing at age 53 in 2007, told us that he was in the hunt to acquire Chaco, but that the deal was not to be at the time. He said then that he would keep trying since it was a brand he believed in. It seems good things come to those who wait, although not necessarily in the manner expected. Chaco, at least financially, is not the company it was five years ago. This acquisition is a saving grace for a brand that still retains very strong retailer loyalty and brand equity, but no longer had the capital necessary to sustain it. With Wolverine, we would expect to see Chaco supercharged, both domestically and internationally. Wolverine has an extensive international distribution network, which we would expect Chaco to utilize quite quickly. In the end, we still believe good things happen to good people. Such is the case with both the team at Wolverine, and the team at Chaco, most especially Mark Paigen. Paigen is a class act and we are happy to see him still engaged and now fully funded.