One year later: Spri under Gaiam ownership completing integration, looking forward

A year after news about Spri Products' acquisition by Gaiam (Nasdaq: GAIA) quietly began seeping out without adieu, the company says it has nearly completed a long integration and has just started to look farther down the road.

A year after news about Spri Products' acquisition by Gaiam (Nasdaq: GAIA) quietly began seeping out without adieu, the company says it has nearly completed a long integration and has just started to look farther down the road.

Still, the brands' identities remain separate, said Spri President Herb Flentye, although they can complement each other in their areas of strength. Click here to see a May 16, 2008, SNEWS® story, "Spri moves ahead after its quiet acquisition by Gaiam."

"The brands still represent different things and we are independent," Flentye said, but "you will see integration across the board."

He noted that Gaiam focuses on mass merchants, media such as DVDs and other educational products and consumers, while Spri's main audience has been clubs and professional fitness facilities and trainers as well as fitness retail.

In a year-end 10K report filed by Gaiam with the SEC in mid-March, the company, which saw a drop in revenue of 8.9 percent for the fourth quarter it blamed on a decrease in consumer spending, reported that its business segment revenues for 2008 increased by $5 million, or 6.4 percent, over 2007 to $83.8 million, "primarily reflecting the acquisition of Spri."

As usual in acquisitions, the integration has taken longer than planned. In the last year, Spri, which been entirely self-contained outside Chicago in Libertyville, has moved its warehouse to Gaiam's in Cincinnati as well as moved its headquarters to another office also in Libertyville, Ill. In addition, duties of sales reps for each company have been better delineated to eliminate cross-over, he said.

So although the two companies are different, that doesn't mean they don't compete in small ways, he added.

"In a way we are going after the same community," Flentye said. "We mean different things to different people but we do go after some of the same shelf space.

"Over time," he added, "there'll be even more development of what the products represent."

Nevertheless, there have been no changes at specialty retail, although in the future part of the accessory wall could have mind-body products from Gaiam, which is a huge emphasis of Spri's parent company. In fact, Flentye said, instead of trying to re-invent the wheel with yoga and Pilates products, Spri will take on Gaiam's mind-body products -- an integration he said he hopes to complete by the Health & Fitness Business show in Denver in early August. In addition, Spri may add some educational media from Gaiam.

"At the end of the day, we want to develop both brands," he said.

Aside from leveraging each brands' strengths, he noted, Spri will also get a bigger push at retail through Gaiam's broad market reach.

"Our specialty partners should see our brand continuing to improve," he said, "and they'll see us take advantage of the experience our parent could bring."

--Therese Iknoian


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