IRVING, Texas – (August 12, 2004) — Bell Sports, the world’s leading marketer of helmets and accessories for bicycling and other action sports, announced today an agreement under which Fenway Partners, Inc., a leading private equity firm, will acquire the company. Fenway, which owns Riddell Sports Group, the leading provider of football helmets and other branded sporting goods products and services, plans to combine Bell Sports and Riddell, forming the world’s largest protective headgear and related accessories company.
Bill Fry, president and CEO of Bell Sports, has been appointed as president and CEO of the new company, the name of which will be forthcoming. The combined company will design and market more than eight million helmets annually under the Bell, Giro (owned by Bell Sports) and Riddell brands.
Bell Sports will continue to drive its business forward based on its industry-leading brand names, product lines and services and has no plans to change its headcount, distribution strategy or business locations.
With capital backing from Fenway, the combined companies will enhance commitments to their existing core markets while pursuing strategic growth opportunities.
Together, Bell Sports and Riddell have a wide-ranging portfolio of authentic, leading brands in helmets and accessories unmatched in the sporting goods industry. The premier athletes in cycling and action sports wear and endorse Bell and Giro helmets, including six-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, BMX stunt-riding champion Dave Mirra, leading freestyle skier Tanner Hall and supercross champion Jeremy McGrath. Riddell helmets are worn by 85 percent of the National Football League (NFL).
“Bringing together these three unsurpassed, authentic brands that cater to everyone from professional athletes to recreational enthusiasts creates a powerful new business with tremendous growth opportunities, said Fry. “We will stay true to our roots and commitments in our core markets as we become an exciting developer, manufacturer and marketer of protective headgear and related accessories across multiple sports.
Founded in 1954, Bell Sports invented the world’s first truly protective auto racing helmet, full-face motorcycle helmet and bicycle helmet. In the past two years, the company has expanded its research and development efforts by 25 percent and entered new markets, such as motorcycle helmets and fitness accessories. Today, through its Bell, Giro and licensed brands, Bell Sports holds more than 60 percent of the cycling and action sports helmet market and distributes to more than 10,000 retail storefronts. Bell also is the market leader for bicycle helmets in Europe and for snowsports helmets in the U.S.
Fenway shares Bell Sports’ vision for future growth leveraging existing brands in current and emerging markets.
“This strategic transaction reflects the Fenway value-building model at work, said Peter Lamm, Chairman and Chief Executive of Fenway Partners. “We are bringing together a world class brand portfolio and two superb management teams that we believe will create a number of exceptional growth opportunities. This combination will lead to accelerated product introductions and expansion new markets and distribution channels.
About Fenway Partners
Fenway Partners, dedicated to building long-term value through direct investment in leading middle-market companies, is a private equity investment firm based in New York with funds under management of more than $1.4 billion. In partnership with management, Fenway invests in companies with strong market positions and significant opportunities for growth. The firm provides management and strategic guidance to improve the operating and financial performance of its portfolio companies, such as jeweler Harry Winston, class rings and yearbooks provider American Achievement Corporation, bedding company Simmons and transportation services company Transpoort Industries. For further information about Fenway, visit the firm’s Web site at www.fenwaypartners.com.
About Riddell Sports Group, Inc.
Riddell Sports Group, Inc. is a leading provider and reconditioner of branded athletic equipment, uniforms, and practice gear for young men and women. With a history dating to the 1920s, the Company is known for its premier position in manufacturing and marketing football helmets to the National Football League (NFL), college, high school and youth sports leagues. The company has three divisions: Team Sports Division, which sells game equipment, apparel and reconditioning services; Retail Division, which sells Riddell® branded products based on NFL, Major League Baseball and NASCAR trademarks; and Licensing Division, which licenses the Riddell® and MacGregor® trademarks to other manufactures. In addition to its unmatched product mix in football, Riddell also offers customers a wide variety of baseball products and services and has recently entered the lacrosse category with agreements to manufacture the basic lacrosse helmet. For further information about Riddell, visit the firm’s Web site at www.riddell.com.
About Bell Sports
Bell Sports is the world’s leading designer and marketer of helmets and accessories for bicycling and other active sports. The company markets helmets and accessories under the Bell, Giro”, Blackburn”, VistaLite’, CoPilot’, X Games, Barbie’, Hot Wheels’ and Fisher Price’ brands. Headquartered in Irving, Texas, the company has operations in Santa Cruz, Calif.; Rantoul, Ill.; York, Penn.; Hong Kong; and Limerick, Ireland. Bell Sports distributes its products in 45 countries. More information is available at www.bellsports.com.