Rockport bankruptcy move clears way for sale

Footwear brand Rockport Group has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, clearing the way for a takeover by private equity fund CB Marathon Opco.

Rockport said in a statement that it has entered into an asset purchase agreement with CB Marathon, which is an affiliate of Charlesbank Equity Fund IX. The deal will preserve the 46-year-old brand, which has had a chequered history in recent years.

In 2005, Rockport was bought by Adidas as part of the Reebok stable in a US$3.8 billion deal. Adidas sold Rockport to Berkshire Partners and New Balance for $280 million in 2015.

After that, New Balance affiliate Drydock Footwear, which owns the Dunham, Cobb Hill and Aravon brands, merged with Rockport to form a separate trading business.

Once the new sale is completed, Charlesbank will own Rockport’s global wholesale assets, retail operations in Asia and Europe and its e-commerce platform. Under the protection of Chapter 11, a number of stores considered surplus to the company’s needs in the US will be shuttered before Charlesbank exercises an option on the remaining outlets.

The Rockport bankruptcy and sale process would ensure the band’s continuation “and provides a clear path forward for the company by focusing on its global wholesale, independent and e-commerce operations,” the company said in a statement.

“With the alignment of its operations and the financial strength, consumer expertise and support of Charlesbank, Rockport will be better positioned in today’s evolving retail landscape.”

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