Weyco Group won’t seek to acquire Allen Edmonds

Speculators wondering about which companies are bidding to acquire Allen Edmonds Shoe Corp. can cross Milwaukee-based Weyco Group Inc. off of the list of potential suitors.

Weyco designs and markets footwear for men, women and children under a portfolio of well-recognized brand names including Florsheim, Nunn Bush, Stacy Adams, BOGS, Rafters and Umi.

So when Port Washington-based Allen Edmonds chief executive officer Paul Grangaard confirmed this week that a deal may be imminent for his company to be sold, some investment message board chatter arose that Weyco Group might be a logical strategic buyer for the high-end men’s dress shoe manufacturer.

However, when asked today whether Weyco Group is considering purchasing Allen Edmonds, senior vice president and chief financial officer John Wittkowske of Weyco told BizTimes that the speculation is not true.

Allen Edmonds is owned by Goldner Hawn Johnson & Morrison, a private equity firm.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Men’s Wearhouse Inc. is among the companies seeking to purchase Allen Edmonds.

It’s possible another private equity firm could purchase Allen Edmonds, according to Vicki Fox, managing director of investment bank Eisen Fox & Company LLC in Milwaukee.

A private equity group might buy from another private equity group if they believe there is some new growth they can drive at the acquired company.

“It would be a really good opportunity for them to deploy a good chunk of their equity, which is hard to do these days,” Fox said. “There’s just not a lot of companies that size in the market right now.”

Goldner Hawn has already harvested the “low hanging fruit,” of its investment in Allen Edmonds, Fox said.

“It’s a great time in the market to sell businesses, and there’s not a lot out there, so that’s why it makes sense to sell now,” Fox said.

The only private equity buyers in the Milwaukee market that would buy a company the size of Allen Edmonds are Mason Wells and Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc., she said, but neither would be a good fit for the shoe company.  Baird is representing Allen Edmonds in the pending transaction.

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