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M&A & Partnerships

Stella McCartney will buy out the remaining 50% share of her company owned by luxury giant Kering, Reuters reports. The move ends a 17-year partnership that will formally cease in Q1 2019; Kering will continue to lend some support and services to the brand in the meantime. McCartney will stay on as a board member of the Kering Foundation, which works to stop violence against women, will continue to collaborate with Kering in the field of “sustainable fashion.”

Separately, Kering is preparing to spin off German sportswear label Puma to its own shareholders as it focuses on its high-margin luxury brands, such as such as Gucci or Balenciaga, and builds up those with a high growth potential.

Asmodee U.K. purchases games distributor Coiledspring Games. Coiledspring will join the Asmodee Group of games companies across the world, but will continue to operate as a separate entity.

English sports chain JD Sports buys The Finish Line for $558 million in a bid to enter the U.S. market. JD’s recent acquisitions include Sports Zone, in Europe, which gave it a bigger position in Iberia. JD operates over 1,200 stores throughout Europe, generating $3.17 billion in revenues for 2017. The retailer is majority owned by Pentland Group, a brand management firm with stakes in brands such as Lacoste, Speedo, and Ted Baker footwear. Although Finish Line boasts more than 900 retail stores and brand locations, including an e-commerce site, the chain has been closing scores of stores since at least 2016. Principal executives are expected to remain, but there is no word yet on further stores closures or takeovers.

Jakks Pacific appoints a new EVP and CFO, Brent Novak. After a 13% drop in net sales last year to reach $613.1 million, the toyco is planning to expand its retail private label programs and exclusive product initiatives. There will also be a continued focus on skincare and cosmetics through C’est Moi, Jakks’ proprietary cosmetic brand for tweens. The company’s expectation for 2018 is to grow sales modestly and return to profitability.

Designer Greetings buys Seattle-based publisher Madison Park Greetings, marking the greeting card company’s eight acquisition since 2006. Recent purchases include Card$mart, Glitterwrap, Red Farm Studio, Royal Greetings, enGreet, Treasure Greetings, and Mike’s Distributing.

The New England Confectionery Co. (Necco) is facing the possibility of mass layoffs if the troubled candy maker fails to find a buyer by May 6. The company manufactures the classic Necco Wafers, Mighty Malts, Candy Buttons, and Sweethearts. Last year Necco sold its 810,000 sq. ft. building for almost $55 million in a deal that had the new owners cover up to $3 billion in unpaid taxes and water bills.

Ninja Divison cuts back from Kickstarter, citing its poisonous ecosystem as the primary reason the game publisher won’t be using the crowdfunding service for large projects. A study by ICO Partners found that total monies raised for tabletop game projects funded on the platform grew 36% to $137 million in 2017.

Dufresne Spencer Group (DSG) invests in Hill Country Holdings in a deal that allies the companies with more than Ashley HomeStore-branded 70 stores across the country. Late last year, Ashley Global Retail invested in DSG, its largest HomeStore licensee. The deal means that Ashley is now a part-owner in two of its largest licensees. According to Furniture Today, DSG generated $296.8 million in retail sales (at 41 stores) and Hill Country $292.6 million (30 locations) in 2016.

Mixed martial arts league the Professional Fighters League (PFL) partners with Mark Burnett, President of MGM Television Group & Digital and MGM Television, to develop and produce new programming for PFL’s upcoming season. MGM and Burnett join as PFL investors and Burnett joins its advisory board. The PFL 2018 league season debuts June 7 and consists of 11 events live on NBC Sports Network and Facebook Watch.

Strategic Marks is looking to open 1,000 pop-up stores to sell toys this holiday season under its KB Toys trademarks, which the company acquired in 2016 (from Toys ‘R’ Us). Strategic Marks is courting alliances with stores experienced in pop-up retail like Spencer Spirit Holdings, Go! Retail Group, and Party City Holdco. The company estimates that half a billion dollars worth of toys been produced for TRU with no place to go.

A chain of mall-based stores, KB Toys officially closed in 2009 after liquidation of its physical assets began in late 2008. Its name, logo, and other IP were sold to TRU for $2.1 million. TRU allowed the trademark to lapse in June 2016, and Strategic Marks picked it up in Dec. 2016. As for TRU, auctions of the company’s real estate are underway with retailers such as Ashley Furniture, Big Lots, and Target among the bidders.









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