Wilson Acquires Louisville Slugger Brand
Wilson Sporting Goods Co., Chicago, has announced the acquisition of the global brand, sales and innovation rights to Louisville Slugger, a division of Hillerich & Bradsby Co. (H&B), Louisville, Ky. This bonds the producer of the official glove of Major League Baseball and the official bat of Major League Baseball. The deal is pending shareholder approval, and is expected to close in June.
According to a statement from H&B, Louisville Slugger will be a stand-alone brand for Wilson. H&B will exclusively manufacture all Louisville Slugger-branded Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball, amateur player and souvenir wood bats for Wilson. This means promotional items as well as performance-grade items will still be manufactured by H&B at its existing downtown Louisville, Ky. facility.
However, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported that Louisville Slugger will cut 52 employees—a fifth of its workforce. The Courier-Journal also said that shrinking resources and the desire to compete with multinational companies spurred H&B toward the deal.
According to Forbes, Wilson acquired Louisville Slugger for $70 million in a cash deal. Kentucky statutes require shareholders have 10 days to vote on the deal, but Louisville Slugger officials expect the deal to go through without any issue.
"The decision to sell the Louisville Slugger brand was a difficult and serious one to make," said John A. Hillerich IV, CEO of H&B. "The Hillerich family, and those closest to the brand, firmly believes that a new business model is necessary to realize the enormous potential of this brand in the future. We recognized from our first conversation with Wilson that they would be a great partner and steward of the brand our family created and so many have nurtured for 131 years."
Wilson will sell Louisville Slugger-branded items through its baseball and softball unit, along with its existing lines of gloves, bats, uniforms, protective equipment and accessories. Wilson also plans to use the global presence of its parent company, Amer Sports, to grow the Louisville Slugger brand internationally.
"We are excited to welcome Louisville Slugger into the Wilson family," said Mike Dowse, president of Wilson Sporting Goods Co. "We believe Louisville Slugger will enrich our company significantly, enhance our baseball and softball product offering at all levels of the game, and ensure we are delivering only the best performance products to athletes of every age."