- Authentic Brands Group said Wednesday that it’s received bankruptcy court approval to buy footwear brand Rockport, which filed for Chapter 11 in June. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Authentic Brands said the deal expands the company’s “diverse footwear portfolio with a trusted brand.”
Also Wednesday, Authentic Brands Group announced that it has signed a long-term licensing agreement with Marc Fisher Footwear to oversee design, wholesale and e-commerce for Rockport in the U.S. The company already works with other shoe and apparel brands in the Authentic Brands portfolio, including Nine West, Hunter Boots and Bandolino.
- Rockport “is a perfect addition to our portfolio with opportunities for category expansion into apparel, accessories, outerwear, travel and more,” Authentic Brands Group CEO Jamie Salter said in a statement.
Rockport filed for Chapter 11 for the second time in five years last month. At that time, the company said it had “an inadequate liquidity cushion to survive further economic challenges.”
Rockport said in court filings that its revenue fell from $275 million in 2019 to $162 million in 2020. And despite generating over $203 million in revenue in 2022, Rockport said in court documents that it owed its top five vendors or suppliers nearly $47 million.
As part of a past bankruptcy reorganization, the shoe company closed all Rockport retail stores in the U.S. It shifted to e-commerce retail and also sought to expand its e-commerce wholesale business.
After the Rockport deal and a move earlier this year to acquire Boardriders close, Authentic Brands said its portfolio will generate more than $29 billion in annual global retail sales. Both deals are expected to close next month.
With the acquisition of Rockport, “there is a significant addressable market, presenting opportunities for the brand to evolve into a full lifestyle offering with a focus on innovation and comfort,” Salter said, a sentiment that Marc Fisher, CEO of his eponymous company, echoed in Authentic’s announcement.
“We are excited to partner with Authentic on Rockport, a brand with great consumer equity,” Fisher said. “Rockport’s strong connection to its core consumer presents compelling growth opportunities within the men's footwear market, and we look forward to continuing to build upon its foundation with Authentic.”
The deal adds another chapter to Rockport’s 50-year history. A father and son team founded the company in 1971 in Massachusetts. Fifteen years later, they sold Rockport to Reebok (which is now also owned by Authentic Brands) for $118 million. Rockport also passed through the ownership of Adidas. But the breakup with Adidas caused Rockport to lose its financial footing. Rockport was later acquired by a joint venture of Berkshire Hathaway and New Balance.
In 2017, the joint venture gave its interest in Rockport to a group of secured lenders, Retail Dive previously reported. Despite the ownership shuffling and bankruptcy, Authentic Brands said Rockport, which is known for popularizing casual, rubber-soled shoes, remains a global retail brand that’s available in more than 60 countries.
Authentic said it anticipates announcing additional partners for Rockport in the coming months.