Birch Hill’s CCM Buys Blade Maker

CCM Hockey, a portfolio company of Birch Hill Equity Partners, has acquired Step Skating Blades, the maker of STEP Steel skate blades.

CCM Hockey is a designer, manufacturer and marketer of hockey equipment and related apparel. The company is headquartered in Montreal and has operations in Canada, the United States and Europe.

CCM was founded in 1899 as the Canada Cycle & Motor Co. and began making hockey skates using scrap steel that was left over at the plant from the manufacture of bicycles and automobiles. The company entered the toy sector in 1988 through the acquisition of Coleco Industries and, after a series of other acquisitions and a 1995 bankruptcy filing, the company was renamed The Hockey Company. In June 2004, The Hockey Company was bought by Reebok which in turn was acquired by Adidas in 2005. Birch Hill acquired CCM Hockey from Adidas in 2017 for $100 million.

Today, CCM provides equipment to more professional hockey players than any other company, including superstars like Connor McDavid, Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and John Tavares. The company is also the official outfitter of the American Hockey League, the Canadian Hockey League, and several NCAA and national teams.

Step Skating Blades manufactures stainless steel skates that are used in both hockey and figure skating. The company’s skates are used by players in the National Hockey League, the American Hockey League (the primary developmental league for the National Hockey League), and the Kontinental Hockey League (an international league with 24 teams in Belarus, China, Finland, Latvia, Kazakhstan and Russia). Step Skating Blades was founded in 2000 and is headquartered in Quebec City.

“The reason we chose to acquire STEP is simple: They are as obsessed as we are with performance and work tirelessly to create a precision tool that makes skaters more confident in every stride; it is the reason the majority of NHL players, and some of the best in the world such as Brent Burns, Alexander Ovechkin and John Tavares, use STEP Steel. After all, steel is every hockey player’s connection point to the ice, so it is critical that our skaters have access to the best,” said Rick Blackshaw, CEO of CCM Hockey.

Gilles Cloutier, the president and founder of STEP, will continue to lead its operations during the ownership transition, and will work closely with CCM’s product creation team going forward. “STEP and CCM have been working together since 2016 to design the XS compatible steel blade. Joining the CCM family was the next logical step in the evolution of our collaborative relationship,” said Mr. Cloutier.

Toronto-based Birch Hill invests in North American-based companies that are valued between C$30 million and C$600 million. The firm was founded in 1994 and closed its fifth private equity fund, Birch Hill Equity Partners V LP, with C$1.3 billion of capital in January 2016.

© 2020 Private Equity Professional | February 6, 2020

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