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Simon, Authentic Brands snap up adventure wear company Eddie Bauer

Century-old American outdoor apparel brand Eddie Bauer has been bought by Sparc Group, the latest in a long line of high-profile brands to be hoovered up by the investment vehicle, a joint venture between Simon Property and Authentic Brands Group. 

Eddie Bauer, which has 300 stores in the US and Canada, will remain headquartered in the Seattle area with current president Damien Huang continuing at the helm. Terms of the deal, with private-equity company Golden Gate Capital, were not disclosed. 

The brand will join Forever 21, Aeropostale, Nautica, Lucky Brand and Brooks Brothers in a rapidly expanding retail group which has been rescuing or revitalising brands impacted by trading conditions relating to the Covid-19 pandemic. The combined turnover of the businesses is estimated at around US$8.6 billion. 

Simon Group, the largest shopping-mall operator in the US, created Sparc with Authentic Brands Group (ABG) as means to retain tenants rather than be left with empty store space when brands are closed or scaled back by white knight investors or administrators.

Founder, chairman and CEO of ABG, Jamie Salter, said the company considers Eddie Bauer to have “unparalleled authority” in the outdoor space. 

“The global outdoor market opportunity has grown exponentially over the last year and we are ready to hit the ground running and guide this brand into new frontiers in partnership with Sparc, Damien and the rest of the Eddie Bauer team.”

The business was founded in 1920 by Eddie Bauer, an outdoor enthusiast who in 1940 patented the first quilted down jacket which was later followed by other unique designs. Bauer retired in 1968, selling the company, which was later owned by General Mills and then Spiegel Group. He died in 1986. 

San Francisco-headquartered Golden Gate Capital bought the retailer when it entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009. 

Today, the company sells products including performance outerwear, apparel, swimwear, footwear, accessories and outdoor lifestyle gear.

“The addition of Eddie Bauer introduces a new and highly differentiated expertise to the Sparc organisation,” said Marc Miller, Sparc’s CEO. “The brand pushes the boundaries of technical innovation and performance with award-winning outdoor product offerings, bringing an entirely new component to our fashion and lifestyle brand portfolio.”

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