J.W. Childs Associates has acquired a majority interest in Cycle Gear, a provider of motorcycle apparel, parts and accessories, from Harvest Partners which first invested in the business in January 2005.
Cycle Gear is a national retailer of helmets, jackets, pants, boots, gloves and other motorcycling related products. The company operates 112 stores in 34 states, has a significant and growing online business, and distributes more than 13 million catalogs annually. Cycle Gear was founded in 1974 and is headquartered north of San Francisco in Benicia, CA (www.cyclegear.com).
Upon closing of the transaction, William Watts, a Partner at J.W. Childs, has assumed the role of Chairman of Cycle Gear. “Cycle Gear has the leading omni-channel footprint in the motorcycle accessories category and we see significant market opportunity for the company,” said Mr. Watts. “This investment is a perfect fit with J.W. Childs’ long-term strategy of investing in leading specialty retailers and we look forward to helping guide this next phase of Cycle Gear’s growth.”
J.W. Childs invests in middle market companies based in North America. Sectors of interest include consumer products, specialty retail and healthcare. The firm was founded in 1995 and is based in Waltham, MA (www.jwchilds.com).
David Bertram, Cycle Gear’s Founding Chairman, will retire from day-to-day executive management of the company but will remain on the Board of Directors. “Partnering with an experienced investment firm like J.W. Childs is a logical next step in the evolution of Cycle Gear,” said Mr. Bertram. “I’m confident that under their stewardship we will accelerate the company’s growth. It’s been an honor working with an incredible team of passionate motorcyclists and retail professionals to grow Cycle Gear into a dominant force in the motorcycle industry. I look forward to my continued participation on the Board of Directors.”
Tracy Wan, a specialty retail executive who joined Cycle Gear in 2009 as Chief Operating Officer, is being promoted to President and joining the Board of Directors. Ms. Wan will assume executive leadership of the business. Peter Laughton, a long-time Director of Cycle Gear and industry veteran, will also remain on the Board.
Also in connection with the acquisition by J.W. Childs, Joseph Fortunato, a long-time specialty retail executive and CEO of GNC from 2005 to 2014 will join the Board as Lead Director and consultant. “Tracy has played a key role in Cycle Gear’s recent success and I look forward to working directly with her and the senior management team to further extend the company’s leadership position,” said Mr. Fortunato. “Having led GNC through dramatic growth as both a private equity-owned and public company, I’m excited and confident about Cycle Gear’s potential.”
Harvest Partners, the seller of Cycle Gear, invests in management buyouts and recapitalizations of middle market companies in North America. Sectors of interest include industrial and energy services, manufacturing and distribution, consumer and business services, and healthcare services. The firm was founded in 1981 and is based in New York (www.harvpart.com).
Kaye Scholer LLP provided legal counsel to J.W. Childs. White & Case LLP provided legal counsel and Piper Jaffray and Financo served as financial advisors to Cycle Gear.
© 2015 PEPD • Private Equity’s Leading News Magazine • 1-8-15