Champion Sale Process Starts to Get Under Way

The would-be buyers are circling at Champion.

G-III Apparel Group Inc. as well as brand management companies Authentic Brands Group, WHP Global and Marquee Brands have all shown interest in buying the company, WWD has learned.

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Other players looking for a turnaround or a chance to take a well known athletic brand in a new direction could also be in the mix.

G-III and Marquee declined comment while WHP did not immediately respond to a WWD query.

Authentic chief executive officer Jamie Salter — a key dealmaker in fashion with brands representing $30 billion in retail sales — already signaled his interest, telling WWD last month that the search for his next deal is ongoing. “There’s Champion and, for sure, we’re looking at that,” Salter said. “And if VF sells its brands, we would be happy to look at some of those assets too.”

In September, HanesBrands said it had hired Goldman Sachs & Co. and Evercore to explore “strategic options” for Champion — dealmaker code for putting the business up for sale.

Neither bank responded to WWD queries, but a source close to the process said a “book” went out late last week, offering a deep dive into the state of the Champion business.

While the full details are confidential, HanesBrands did offer a more broad brush view of the business with its third-quarter results on Thursday.

Champion sales fell by 19 percent in the quarter ended Sept. 30 with a 16 percent drop in the U.S. attributed to “continued challenging activewear market dynamics” and steps to position the brand for longer-term growth. International sales fell by 22 percent.

Overall, HanesBrand’s sales fell 9.5 percent to $1.5 billion in the third quarter, producing a net loss of $38.8 million and adjusted income from continuing operations of $34 million.

Stephen Bratspies, the Walmart veteran who became chief executive officer of HanesBrands in 2020, told analysts on a conference call: “We’ve made significant structural improvement to Champion such as segmenting and streamlining our supply chain, establishing globalized product design as well as implementing a new disciplined channel segmentation strategy. These improvements have highlighted an even greater distinction between our innerwear and activewear businesses. This has created the opportunity for us in conjunction with the board to evaluate options for the global Champion business that could accelerate shareholder value creation.”

Bratspies said the process is still in an early phase, but that the brand has received “strong initial interest from a broad group of global partners.”

The intellectual property specialists are always keen on a brand that is so well known and could be plugged in their networks of licensing partners around the world. And G-III has been moving toward owning more of its business after PVH Corp. last year moved to pull back licenses for its Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein brands.

In a statement, HanesBrands said: “We are in the initial stages of evaluating strategic options and the right path forward for the global Champion business, and at the same time, remain committed to advancing Champion’s new, disciplined channel segmentation strategy, energizing the brand and leveraging the work already completed to globalize product design and segment and streamline our supply chain.”

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