Breaking: Allen Edmonds To Be Acquired By Private Equity Firm


Allen Edmonds has just contacted with the news that it is being acquired by a private equity firm, with the announcement set to hit the newswire shortly.

Those who’ve had their hearts broken at the acquisition of quintessential American brands by foreign companies will be pleased to hear that the new owners are American, and the above image, with prominent flag, was included by Allen Edmonds in its email. The release is pasted below in its entirety. — CC

Private Equity Firm Brentwood Associates Agrees to Acquire Allen Edmonds;
Retains Allen Edmonds’ Leadership and Continues “Made in America” Manufacturing Strategy

PORT WASHINGTON, WISCONSIN. (NOVEMBER 4, 2013) – Allen Edmonds Corporation has agreed to be acquired by an affiliate of Brentwood Associates, a Los Angeles based private equity firm founded in 1972 with a strong track record of successful investments in growth-oriented consumer companies. Allen Edmonds will remain an independent private company, according to its president & chief executive officer Paul Grangaard, and will now have greater access to investment capital as a result of a successful ownership transition from Goldner Hawn Johnson & Morrison of Minneapolis, the private equity firm that led the purchase of Allen Edmonds in 2006.

Grangaard also announced that the leadership team responsible for the company’s significant growth over the last five years will remain with the company. He emphasized that Allen Edmonds remains completely committed to its “Made in USA” manufacturing strategy and its expanding Port Washington, Wis. production operation. Allen Edmonds has been handcrafting shoes in communities just north of Milwaukee since 1922.

Funding Will Fuel Continued Growth

“We’re absolutely delighted to partner with Brentwood Associates as we drive the development of this 91-year-old growth company,” said Grangaard. “This smooth transition provides us with the capital needed to continue building the Allen Edmonds brand, broadening our product line and taking our Made in USA products to new cities around the globe.”

Allen Edmonds is coming off two consecutive record years and is on pace for a third in 2013. After Grangaard became CEO of Allen Edmonds in 2008, he assembled a senior leadership team of experienced insiders and key new hires. The team recommitted to a U.S. manufacturing and quality strategy. Recently it even began exporting its branded Made in America product to China. The growth has created over 250 new jobs in three years at the company headquarters, manufacturing and distribution facilities in Wis. and in its retail stores across the country.

“The Allen Edmonds brand fits perfectly with our strategy of investing in category-defining brands with exceptional customer loyalty,” said Steve Moore, Partner of Brentwood Associates, who leads the investment with Roger Goddu, another Brentwood partner. “Paul and his leadership team have been excellent stewards of the company over the past five years and have proven their ability to grow and strengthen the business even in difficult times. We are confident that tremendous growth lies ahead for the brand in both the U.S. and key international markets.”

“We’re very excited to be working with Steve, Roger and the entire Brentwood team. They have proved to be tremendous, value-added partners in their past investments and we’re eager to call on their experience in consumer brands and multi-channel retailing,” said Grangaard. Roger Goddu added, “The Allen Edmonds brand represents extraordinary craftsmanship, and we will support the company in delivering the same high-quality products, service and value that Allen Edmonds customers have come to know and expect. We see fantastic potential for this company going forward.”

18 Comments on "Breaking: Allen Edmonds To Be Acquired By Private Equity Firm"

  1. A.E.W. Mason | November 4, 2013 at 9:58 pm |

    Very, very pleased to hear this! They make a great shoe. If you’ve been following the Jos. A. Bank / Men’s Warehouse takeover contest (Bank wants to acquire Men’s warehouse), then you’ve read that Men’s Warehouse was considering making a play for Allen Edmonds. I suspect Men’s Warehouse may have put that out there because (i) Allen Edmond’s is a Bank supplier; and (ii) if Men’s Warehouse acquired Allen Edmonds, it would have increased their valuation and made it more difficult for Bank to get financing to swallow Men’s Warehouse.

  2. Steve Hunter | November 5, 2013 at 12:03 am |

    Plus, once you get on the Bank e-mail list, it follows you to the grave. They must be in collusion with NSA.

  3. A.E.W. Mason | November 5, 2013 at 3:17 am |

    @ Steve Hunter. Of course, Men’s Warehouse was a discounter from the start. Bank is quite different story, as you say. I still have the fist bank suit I bought in 1989. It’s a three-button, un-darted, natural shoulder model and made in the U.S.A. I was surprised to learn that Bank’s sales are about $1.5 billion and MW has revenue of well over $2 billion. While I’m please MW won’t be acquiring Allen Edmonds, I just hope Brentwood’s “expansion” concept for the brand doesn’t mean trying to make it all things to all people. We see what that’s done to Brooks Brothers.

  4. “I just hope Brentwood’s “expansion” concept for the brand doesn’t mean trying to make it all things to all people. We see what that’s done to Brooks Brothers.”
    I concur.

  5. The new clothing line is more akin to Johnston and Murphy than to BB. Have not seen anything worthwhile come out of AE in sometime. Thank god Rus is still family owned and does great oxfords and loafers…

  6. “accouncement”…an announcement from the Accounting Department?

  7. Ha! Fixed. Thanks.

  8. Gee whiz, AE got acquired by private equity firm from other private equity firm that used to own it. So ominous!

  9. Well, we know what shoes the Brentwood guys will be wearing!!!

  10. E,

    A quick search failed to provide any information on Rus shoes. Would you post a link to their website, or maybe say a little more about them, please?

  11. @Henry
    I think E is talking about this firm


    Correct. Excellent shoes and boots.

  13. Thank you very much!

  14. J. A. Denlinger | November 7, 2013 at 1:28 pm |

    Realizing that not all PE buyers are created equally (a few others seem to understand this too), I did some quick due diligence on Brentwood Associates (i.e., took a quick spin through their website). I was relieved to find a very familiar name listed on their Realized Investments page – Filson. For anyone who’s interested, here is the link: I’m pretty sure that AE will be in good hands with Brentwood.

  15. A.E.W. Mason | November 7, 2013 at 4:47 pm |

    @J.A. Denlinger

    I agree that the buyer could have been much worse. I believe Brentwood’s “Realized Investments” are companies it acquired, polished up, and then sold, presumably at a profit. No surprise; that’s what PE firms do. One of Brentwood’s stated aims is to increase market share and develop new markets. This usually requires an expanded workforce. Brentwood will also want to increase revenue and cash flow. These are all good goals. I just hope there is no sacrifice in quality in Brentwood’s quest to achieve them. The best of luck to all involved.

  16. Mr. Denlinger: So Brentwood Associates is behind what has happened to Filson. Filson used to make beautifully made outdoor clothes and canvas-goods that were designed right and lasted forever. They made the best all-wool shirts and jackets available anywhere, great waxed-cotton hunting and work clothing, truly first-rate stuff.

    That was then. Filson has since embraced the whole nouveau-grunge/hip/skimpy-skinny doped-out West Coast thing, whatever it really is, by trashing much of clothing line in favor of its new “Seattle Fit” productions. Gone are some of the standard items it carried for decades, with the big pockets, the functional fit, the hard-wearing fabrics. Instead we are offered tight-fitting low-slung J. Crew knockoffs with tiny pockets and weird gimmicky features of no intended practical use. Some of Filson’s new bags would look out of place anywhere west of the East Village, where, I suspect, most of the new design cues come from.

    If this should happen to Allen Edmonds, then we can kiss goodbye to many of the company’s traditional offerings. Here’s my guess: first, Allen Edmonds will stop offering a full range of widths on any but a few of their designs. Most of its shoes will be M, W, or EW. Then it will get rid of all but three or four lasts. Man-made materials will be substituted for cork, leather, and canvas where possible (and where no one notices). Cheaper versions of leather will be used, sliced more thinly and coated with poly-whatever so that it appears “rich” and “burnished.” Then it will dump its refurbishing business. Instead, we’ll see $250 Allen Edmonds basketball shoes endorsed by the University of Kentucky’s latest dropouts.

    That’s how this stuff works.

  17. J. A. Denlinger | November 8, 2013 at 12:32 pm |

    DSF: Thank you for explaining to me (all of us, really) “how this stuff works.”

    Query, are you equally bothered by Allen Edmond’s myriad webgem offerings, nearly all of which, at least to my eye, seem to be of pretty questionable design/style/quality? Given your concern about “$250 Allen Edmonds basketball shoes,” are we not nearly there already with the current Allen Edmonds $199 Jingle Bell Mok Wingtip Oxfords?

    Sadly, this is no joke:

    And Allen Edmonds has only just been sold . . . .

  18. Mr. Denlinger: I’ve read that Allen Edmonds has adopted sourcing, design, and production techniques that have lowered the quality of their shoes. It is possible, however, that the company has decided simply to offer what the public wants: lighter, less “serious” shoes made of thinner, more flexible materials. It is said that no one wants to buy old-fashioned shoes anymore. But if you wear, say, a size 9 in a B-width and you want a brown oxford with some room in the toe, you will have very few choices, even over the Internet, short of getting them special-order. A 10A is almost impossible to find nowadays. Well-made hard-soled all-leather dress shoes can be very uncomfortable if they don’t fit, and since shoe-makers don’t make them to fit anymore, guys have no choice but to buy the spongy, foamy stuff sold by Mephisto or Rockport.

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