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Authentic Brands Group's acquisition strategy: A look at the past five years

By Caitlyn Terra


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Ted Baker brand. Image: Authentic Brands Group

The American Authentic Brands Group (Authentic) is becoming an increasingly important player in the fashion industry, partly thanks to the various acquisitions it has made in recent years. The group seems to be pursuing a buy-and-build strategy and already has more than 40 brands in its portfolio. If you have lost track of all recent acquisitions, FashionUnited has listed them for you.

At the moment there are unconfirmed reports in the media that Authentic Brands Group is targeting both British shoe brand Hunter and fashion group Boardriders. However, these deals don't seem to be finalised yet, and as many know - until it's in black and white, things could go either way.

2022: Ted Baker

The most recent confirmed deal is the acquisition of Ted Baker. Through its subsidiary ABG-Robin Bidco, the American group acquired the British brand for 211 million pounds.

While the ball for a takeover of Ted Baker Plc started rolling as early as March 2022, the final bid for the brand came in August. Initially, it had become clear that Sycamore Partners Management LP wanted to make a takeover offer for Ted Baker, however it was later revealed that the company had rejected not one but two bids from the firm. As interest was shown in Ted Baker by more companies, the brand decided to start a formal sales process. Authentic Brands Group emerged as the winner after long process.

Under Authentic Brands Group, the intention was to restructure Ted Baker so that the potential of the brand is 'maximised'. Authentic saw opportunities for Ted Baker in North America and wanted to accelerate the brand's growth globally.

2021: Reebok

A year earlier, in August 2021, it appeared that Authentic Brands Group was set to takeover the Reebok brand from Adidas AG. Authentic paid no less than 2.1 billion euros for the brand, with Reebok being the problem child of Adidas at the time.

“We believe that with this change of ownership, Reebok is well positioned for long-term success. At Adidas, we will continue to focus on executing our 'Own the Game' strategy that will enable us to grow in an attractive market, increase market share and create sustainable value for all stakeholders,” said Kasper Rorsted, CEO of Adidas AG, about the takeover at the time.

2021: Heritage branch of PVH Corp.

In June 2021, Authentic Brands Group acquired a large number of brands. PVH Corp. wanted to focus on the Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger brands and therefore sold the 'heritage brands' branch to Authentic. This concerned Arrow, Izod, Van Heusen and Geoffrey Beene.

This acquisition also came with a price tag, with Authentic paying 220 million dollars for the branch.

2021: Eddie Bauer

2021 was a big year when it came to acquisitions for Authentic Brands Group. In May 2021, it acquired the Eddie Bauer outdoor brand in partnership with Sparc Group, LLC, taking over all of the brand's intellectual property while Sparc took on the core operating activities, according to the press release at the time. Sparc is partly covered by Authentic.

“Eddie Bauer has a history spanning over 100 years and is unparalleled in the outdoor world,” said Jamie Salter, founder, chairman and CEO of Authentic, in the 2021 press release. “Opportunities in the global outdoor market have increased exponentially over the past year and we are ready to hit the ground running and take this brand to new heights in partnership with Sparc [...]”

How much Authentic Brands Group paid for the joint takeover was not disclosed.

2020: Brooks Brothers

Authentic Brands Group had already partnered with Sparc Group, LLC for an acquisition in 2020. Together, the two took over the Brooks Brothers brand. No statements were made about a takeover price.

Brooks Brothers has a long history and heritage. The brand was founded over two centuries ago and has a classic style. “Brooks Brothers has a great history and a strength that continues among several generations of loyal customers,” said Jamie Salter, founder, chairman and CEO of Authentic, in the press release at the time. “Together with Sparc, we will build on the heritage of the brand and look to expand the range and reach a wider audience through a global network of stores and partners.”

2020: Lucky

A few days before the acquisition of Brooks Brothers became public, Authentic already announced a takeover of the denim brand Lucky. Here too, the group was working together with Sparc again.

2020: Forever 21

Fashion brand Forever 21 fell into the hands of the Authentic Brands Group, Simon Property Group and Brookfield Property Partners in 2020, with Authentic snapping up a total of 37.5 percent. Once again, a purchase price was not announced. For Authentic, the acquisition of Forever 21 was a way to further diversify its portfolio, according to the press release.

At the time of the acquisition, Forever 21 had been struggling for several months, with the company having applied for a chapter 11 procedure, which in the US often leads to a successful restructuring, or a sale. A month before the deal was announced, Forever 21 already revealed that it was considering a sale.

Authentic indicated that it wanted to breathe new life into Forever 21. A focus remained on trendy design that could be brought to market quickly. Authentic Brands Group also underlined that it wanted to work towards a more sustainable production chain for the brand. “The strategy will focus on connecting with Gen Z audiences by introducing innovative creative digital campaigns and influential collaborations,” the company said in a press release.

2019: Barneys

Iconic American department store Barneys fell into trouble in 2019. The company went bankrupt and eventually Authentic Brands Group took over the assets of Barneys, acquiring the intellectual property rights to the brand name and most of the Barneys inventory.

For Authentic, it was a way to expand the luxury footprint in the portfolio and anchor a position in contemporary fashion, according to the 2019 press release.

2018: Nine West and Bandolino

Authentic Brands Group acquired Nine West and Bandolino from Nine West Holdings, Inc. in 2018, among others. The brands had already entered a chapter 11 procedure ahead of the move. Under the leadership of Authentic, both Nine West and Bandolino looked to explore new territory: sportswear, outerwear, swimwear, underwear, perfume, sleepwear and home. Expanding to more countries was also on the agenda.

2018: Nautica

At the beginning of 2018, Authentic Brands Group acquired the Nautica brand from VF Corp. “The Nautica brand is an iconic, globally recognised brand and Authentic Brands Group is the ideal owner to lead the next phase of growth and success,” said Steve Rendle, CEO of VF Corp. in the press release at the time.

Which brand is next for Authentic Brands Group?

If you look closely at the acquisitions of Authentic Brands Group, you will see that the American group has been working for more than five years to make the portfolio as diverse as possible. From heritage brands to brands in the luxury spectrum. The brands that Authentic has taken over are also getting bigger, so it is quite possible that the group has other players in mind. The question remains who this will be and how the portfolio of the American company will continue to grow.

According to its own website, Authentic Brands Group now has more than 40 brands in its portfolio, 355,000 points of sale, 9,800 own stores and a turnover of 24.5 billion dollars, making it a fashion group to be reckoned with.

Authentic Brands Group
Eddie Bauer
Forever 21
Mergers and acquisitions
Ted Baker