Like most acquisitions, it was a long time coming, but this summer Gerry Sportswear announced it had purchased Bombshell snowboard apparel company.
“We first looked at Bombshell a year ago, when we decided to get into the snowboard business,” says Gerry Sportswear CEO Jeff Anderson. “I was very impressed with the owners Jerris Greenblat and Kathy Allison. Jerris had designed one of our Roffe lines so I had the opportunity to work with her. I was impressed not just with her design capabilities but also with her overall understanding of production, color, and the whole process of manufacturing.”
According to Anderson, Gerry was interested in acquiring Bombshell for two reasons: “It’s truly a snowboard line, where Mambosok is both snowboard and freeski. It’s also designed specifically for women. Both are significant growth categories.”
Mambosok was purchased last year, joining Gerry’s other outerwear lines: Roffe, Demetre sweaters, and Comfy western wear.
The desire to sell Bombshell and become part of a bigger family of companies was driven by the current market consolidation, says Greenblat. “With so many companies getting together and becoming stronger, they have so much more influence over the buyers,” she adds. “It’s hard for a small vendor to get the increases in orders that you need to be able to compete. So joining up with Gerry was advantageous to us.”
The deal was finalized on June 1, 1998. The infrastructure of Bombshell, including customer service, operations, warehousing, distribution, and production will all be moving the Seattle Gerry Sportswear office. Allison will continue to be in charge of sales and Greenblat will maintain her role as designer. Both will remain in Calabasas, California, but Greenblat expects they will travel to Seattle often for meetings.
“There’re huge benefits in that Gerry has an infrastructure already set up,” Greenblat states. “They were interested in getting into the women’s market and we could offer them an established brand, which they could simply plug into their structure. They have distribution and relationships with shops already set up that will help with growth and keeping the brand alive.”
The rep force for Bombshell will be changing, though details have not been finalized. According to Anderson, the brand will now be represented by the Gerry sales force.
“We’ve had lots of interest so far,” Anderson says about dealer’s response to carrying Bombshell. “One thing the retailers like is the opportunity to deal with fewer people. And we like to simplify their lives. They can buy several brands under one order and shipment from us. When we acquired Mambosok, Dan Hoard, cofounder was amazed how quickly we could broaden their distribution.”
Another change retailers should expect to see from Bombshell in the next couple of years is the introduction of a women’s Spring apparel line. “We’ve always wanted to do a spring line to add counter-seasonal business,” Greenblat says. “But we didn’t want to overextend ourselves so we’ve been waiting. We discussed the idea with Jeff and he was very positive about it.” Keep an eye out for Bombshell casual and fitness apparel to hit the market by Spring 2000.