Implus makes another move toward becoming a one-stop accessories shop
Implus LLC has acquired FuelBelt, Inc., Implus announced on Tuesday, adding to its line of specialty runners’ accessories and hinting at a new business model to bring greater convenience to its retail customers.
FuelBelt, a Rhode Island-based company, specializes in hydration belts for runners. It was founded in 1997 by Vinu Malik, a seven-time Ironman World Championship participant.
Implus hopes to become a one-stop shop for retailers looking for convenience when buying accessories, said Bert Pictor, senior vice president of the Specialty Category for Implus. His own company, Balega, was acquired by Implus earlier this year.
“The dream is we’ll put five, six, seven, eight, 10 relevant brands in the same box and ship it all,” Pictor said. “It’s one order, it’s one phone call as opposed to 10 different phone calls to 10 different brands, it’s one shipping cost. It’s unique and we believe it’s going to be a really, really beautiful model.”
Pictor said the company wants to maintain its relationships with its specialty retailer customers and provide them with “real solutions for what their needs are,” rather than focusing on marketing to big box stores.
Fuelbelt is the company’s third acquisition since Boston-based Berkshire Partners invested in Implus and acquired a majority position in the company in April.
Many of Implus’ specialty brands are related to footwear – Balega socks, Yaktrax, Sof Sole and Sneaker Balls, to name a few. FuelBelt represents a departure from that, and an expansion of the company’s line.
“We want to become an accessory solution to our customer base,” Pictor said. “We really want to maximize our opportunities in the accessory field.”
Implus’ goal is to bring FuelBelt to the mainstream runner, Pictor said, as it’s currently a niche market and the product is most popular among triathletes. Malik will remain in Rhode Island and stay on with the company, Pictor said.
“We are excited about the future for FuelBelt,” Malik said in a press release about the acquisition. “The Implus roster of Specialty brands is extremely impressive and we are proud to have FuelBelt join such an expansive company that is continuing to grow its product offerings and be part of a team with cutting-edge development and vast resources.”