Yesterday, New Zealand retailer and outdoor equipment maker Kathmandu announced their acquisition of Montana-based Oboz Footwear for up to $75 million ($60 million upfront with a $15 million earn-out). A long time supplier to Kathmandu, Oboz’s vast network of retailers in the US and Europe provides the company with a ready-built sell-through strategy for entry into new markets.
Up until now, Kathmandu has been very reliant on the Australasia market, with a failed attempt at a brick-and-mortar strategy in the UK a few years ago. Much like REI, the retailer has a collection of own brand products — mostly apparel in Kathmandu’s case, a large percentage of which is for fall and winter.
Footwear is one of the fastest growing and least seasonal sections of the outdoor market so the acquisition diversifies Kathmandu’s product offering. It also gives them immediate access to all of Oboz’s current US and European retailers to sell through Kathmandu product, promising to do the same in return for Oboz back at home.
“We’ve been looking at the US market for some time, and when you look at the customers and retailers Oboz have in the US, it’s a dream distribution for us,” said Kathmandu chief executive Xavier Simonet. “If we could work with the Oboz customers in the US and launch Kathmandu with them, that would be brilliant because they’re core authentic outdoor retailers and we can tap into that knowledge for sure.”
Even though Oboz doesn’t operate any stores themselves in the US, Simonet has not ruled out opening combined stores selling the two brands. In the meantime, expect to see more Kathmandu products hitting the shelves at your local outdoor store relatively soon.