CD&R backs S&S Activewear

Funds managed by Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) are partnering with current owners and management of S&S Activewear to acquire the North American distributor of imprintable apparel and accessories. Terms of the transaction have not been disclosed.

With approximately four million square feet of warehouse space and more than 2,000 employees, S&S specialises in distributing blank sportswear, corporate apparel, and accessories, including t-shirts, fleece & sweatshirts, headwear, athletics and outerwear from over 100 leading brands such as adidas, Champion, Columbia, Bella+Canvas, Next Level Apparel and Gildan. The company stocks more than 80,000 products and serves a broad range of customers, including screen printers & embroiderers, promotional product distributors, e-decorators, and team dealers.

Founded in 1988, S&S has grown under the current management team and owners from a successful midwestern t-shirt and fleece distributor into an industry leader with approximately $1.5 billion in sales. S&S emphasises speed and quality of service, having made significant investments in national distribution capacity and technology and established the largest one & two-day distribution footprint in the industry. The company has also expanded geographically with 3 acquisitions since 2010, including the acquisition of the largest wholesale apparel distributor in Canada, Technosport, in 2020.  Today, S&S products can reach 99 per cent of the US and Canada population within two days, and 44 states in just one day.

The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2021, at which point S&S President Jim Shannon will assume the role of Chief Executive Officer and CD&R Operating Partner John Compton, former President of Pepsico, will become Chairman of the Board.

“This transaction is an important milestone for S&S and a validation of our continued success; as successful as we have been over the last two decades, we believe our growth story is just beginning,” says Shannon. “CD&R has a deep understanding of our business, from sourcing, freight, and distribution center scaling to technology and sales & marketing.”

“We are delighted to partner with a talented, entrepreneurial S&S team that shares our core values in a business we know and understand,” says Ken Giuriceo, CD&R Partner. “We look forward to working together to achieve our vision for continued strong growth that creates exciting opportunities for employees, vendors and customers, as well as the local communities where they operate.”

Barclays, Deutsche Bank Securities Inc, BMO Capital Markets Corp and Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC acted as financial advisors and Debevoise & Plimpton LLP acted as legal advisor to CD&R in connection with the transaction. Baird served as the exclusive financial advisor and McDermott Will & Emery LLP acted as legal advisor to S&S.

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