Gridiron’s GSM Takes Aim at New Brands

Good Sportsman Marketing Outdoors (GSM Outdoors), a portfolio company of Gridiron Capital, has acquired Plano Synergy’s hunting accessories and archery brands from Pure Fishing, a portfolio company of Sycamore Partners since 2019.

On March 15, 2021, Pure Fishing agreed to acquire Plano Synergy, a portfolio company of Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, and on April 19, 2021, it closed this acquisition. As planned, Pure Fishing has retained some brands of Plano Synergy – including the iconic Plano (tackleboxes) and Frabill (bait systems and nets) brands – and is selling its hunting accessories and archery brands to GSM Outdoors.

Gridiron acquired GSM Outdoors, a provider of accessories used in the hunting, sport shooting, and outdoor enthusiast markets, from Sentinel Capital in November 2020.

GSM is a developer, manufacturer, marketer, and seller of a portfolio of branded hunting and sport shooting products including Stealth Cam (game scouting cameras); Cyclops (specialty outdoor lighting); Walker’s (hearing protection and enhancement devices); Western Rivers (game calls); American Hunter (game feeders); HME (hunting knives and tools); and SME (targets and related accessories). Other company-owned brands include Muddy Outdoors, Birchwood Casey, Big Game, and Hawk.

GSM’s products are sold through online retailers, sporting goods stores, mass merchants, outdoorsman retailers, farm and fleet stores, and dealers/distributors across the US and Canada. GSM, led by CEO Eddie Castro, was founded in 1999 and is headquartered in Irving, Texas.

The acquired Plano Synergy’s hunting and archery brands include Wildgame Innovations (attractants), Ameristep (ground blinds), Tenzing (hunting packs), Zink (game calls), Halo Optics (rangefinders), Flextone (game calls), Avian X (decoys), Evolved (feeds, seeds and attractants), Barnett (crossbows), and Zero Trace (scent elimination).

Sycamore Partners acquired Pure Fishing from Newell Brands in January 2019 for $1.3 billion. Pure Fishing manufactures and sells fishing tackle, lures, rods and reels and other outdoor and recreational lifestyle products. The company has an extensive portfolio of brand names including Abu Garcia, Berkley, Shakespeare, SpiderWire, and Stren. Pure Fishing, headquartered in Columbia, South Carolina, traces its roots back to 1937 when Berkley Bedell founded the Berkley Fly Co. in Spirit Lake, Iowa.

“The acquisition of these well-established hunting and archery brands is another successful milestone in GSM Outdoors’ strategic growth plan,” said Kevin Jackson, a managing partner at Gridiron. “The GSM Outdoors’ team has a proven track record of innovation, new product development, and channel growth, and this investment reinforces the company’s commitment to strong stewardship of leading consumer brands and support for the outdoor enthusiast market.”

“This is GSM Outdoors’ fourth strategic acquisition since Gridiron Capital began its partnership with the company, and like the other three partnerships, GSM Outdoors is eager to leverage its unique product development innovation engine to drive continued growth of these renowned Plano Synergy brands,” said John Warner, a managing director at Gridiron. “With GSM Outdoors’ distribution capabilities and deep network of relationships, Plano Synergy’s loyal consumers will be able to purchase their favorite products from additional retailers.”

Gridiron invests in manufacturing, service, and specialty consumer companies with enterprise values from $75 million to $575 million and EBITDA from $8 million to $50 million. Sectors of interest include branded consumer, business-to-business and business-to-consumer services, and niche industrial. New Canaan, Connecticut-based Gridiron held a hard-cap and oversubscribed closing of its largest fund, Gridiron Capital Fund IV LP, in December 2020 with $1.35 billion of capital.

© 2021 Private Equity Professional | April 27, 2021

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