State College, PA — July 6, 1999 — AIRWALK International, LLC, a designer and marketer of branded youth lifestyle footwear, apparel, and products for snowboarding enthusiasts, today announced that it has been purchased by Sunrise Capital Partners, LP, an investment fund affiliated with Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin. The acquisition, which also provides the company with additional growth capital, will better position AIRWALK to reach its full potential as a global youth lifestyle brand.
“With a respectful eye to the past, we are very excited about this transaction because it will enable us to build on AIRWALK's strong heritage as a youth lifestyle brand,” said H. Peter Goehrig, Chief Executive Officer of AIRWALK. “In the coming months, we will focus on improving our infrastructure and systems to ensure better customer service and delivery performance. Our goal is not to be the biggest, but to be the best in all aspects of our business and to continue providing our retail partners with fresh product designs and innovative marketing programs designed to meet the needs of the challenging youth lifestyle marketplace.”
David A. Preiser, Managing Partner of Sunrise Capital Partners, LP said, “AIRWALK fits perfectly into our strategy to acquire middle market companies with solid underlying fundamentals and growth prospects which can be strengthened by the commitment of capital and operational resources. We are eager to work with Peter Goehrig and his management team to enhance AIRWALK's position as a premiere youth lifestyle brand.”
In addition to bolstering the company's infrastructure and improving service to its retail partners, Goehrig's team plans to implement new interactive marketing initiatives, product introductions and retail-based consumer programs, such as additional “Channel A” video releases and expanded on-line shopping opportunities through the company's interactive website airwalk.com. AIRWALK's longer term strategic plans include further penetration in the Women's and International footwear markets, the continued exploration of brand enhancing licensing opportunities and a renewed focus on the company's snowboarding operations.
Since its inception in 1986, AIRWALK has established itself as a significant supplier of casual shoes for the 8-24 year old. The company is also a leading supplier of a full line of snowboarding equipment, including boots, snowboards, apparel, conventional and step in bindings and accessories, mountain biking and BMX footwear, and skateboarding footwear. In 1996, AIRWALK was recognized as “Footwear Marketer of the Year” by Footwear News, Footwear Industries of America, and Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America. AIRWALK has also signed several key strategic partnerships with global marketing organizations, including Itochu and ASICS.
Sunrise Capital Partners, LP is a private investment fund with over $250 million of committed capital focusing on the acquisition of controlling interests in middle market companies. Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin is one of the nation's premier providers of investment banking services to middle-market companies. Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin specializes in the placement of debt and equity capital to finance strategic acquisitions, industry roll-ups, growth management buyouts and leveraged transactions, and in 1998 ranked as the fifth largest advisor in the U.S. in completed M&A transactions of under $100 million.