California private equity firm acquires Allen Edmonds

Allen Edmonds Corp. has agreed to be acquired by an affiliate of Brentwood Associates, a Los Angeles-based private equity firm founded in 1972 with a track record of successful investments in growth-oriented consumer companies.

Port Washington-based Allen Edmonds will remain an independent private company, according to its president and chief executive officer Paul Grangaard, and will now have greater access to investment capital as a result of a successful ownership transition from Goldner Hawn Johnson & Morrison of Minneapolis, the private equity firm that led the purchase of Allen Edmonds in 2006.

Grangaard and the company’s management team will be retained.

Brentwood is committed to keeping Allen Edmonds’ production in Port Washington, Grangaard said.

“They (Brentwood) are committed. They are really good people, and they like what we’ve been doing. This will just give us more fuel in the tank,” Grangaard told BizTimes. It’s going to continue to grow. We opened our third production line here this month. It’s very exciting. We are hiring, from distribution to marketing to support functions, we’re going to continue to be a growth company. We’re constantly converting temporary workers into full-time workers. We will be increasing our growth of retail stores. We will have access to plenty of capital to grow.”

The purchase price of the private transaction was not disclosed. Milwaukee-based Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. represented Goldner Hawn in the transaction. The selling company entertained several offers, Grangaard said, before selecting the bid from Brentwood.

Brentwood’s portfolio includes several other apparel companies. The most similar to Allen Edmonds is Ariat International, a leading designer and manufacturer of high-performance, high-quality equestrian footwear, related work and casual footwear, apparel and accessories that was sold to management and the founders of Gap Inc. last year.
Brentwood targets equity investments between $20 million and $100 million.

Grangaard said Allen Edmonds will keep its 550 employees in Port Washington and will plan to use the cash infusion from Brentwood to increase employment at the plant and expand its retail footprint across the nation. The company has 46 retail stores across the country, with plans to open seven more in 2014 and to open more stores in “international capitals” in 2015, Grangaard said.

“We’re absolutely delighted to partner with Brentwood Associates as we drive the development of this 91-year-old growth company. This smooth transition provides us with the capital needed to continue building the Allen Edmonds brand, broadening our product line and taking our Made in the USA products to new cities around the globe,” Grangaard said.

Allen Edmonds is coming off of two consecutive record years of sales and is on pace for a third in 2013.

“The Allen Edmonds brand fits perfectly with our strategy of investing in category-defining brands with exceptional customer loyalty,” said Steve Moore, partner at Brentwood. “Paul and his leadership team have been excellent stewards of the company over the past five years and have proven their ability to grow and strengthen the business even in difficult times. We are confident that tremendous growth lies ahead for the brand in both the U.S. and key international markets.”

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