Afraid your favorite athlete might take a knockin' on the noggin? Easton-Bell Sports (EBS) products can help soften the blow. A leading maker of helmets and other sporting goods used by professional and recreational athletes, EBS caters to the baseball, softball, football, and hockey markets, as well as to cycling, snowsports, and powersports enthusiasts. The company's items are sold under the Easton, Bell, Giro, and Riddell names, among others. It also owns the licensing rights for the MacGregor golf brand. EBS' products are sold at national chains the likes of Wal-Mart and to local retailers. A subsidiary of RBG Holdings, EBS was created by the merger of Riddell Bell and Easton Sports in 2006.
EBS operates through two business segments: Team Sports and Action Sports. Team Sports is the larger operation, generating 57% of revenue in 2011, and accounts for sales of football, ice hockey, baseball, and softball products, as well as reconditioning services. The Action Sports unit, which brought in 43% of 2011 revenue, focuses on making cycling, snowsports, powersports, and fitness products, such as helmets, wireless audio gear, cycling components (such as handlebars and wheels), and accessories for yoga and pilates.
Each EBS business unit has its fingers spread worldwide. Besides the US, the company boasts manufacturing and distribution facilities in Canada, Mexico, China, and Taiwan. Asia is where EBS makes its baseball and softball bats with aluminum and composite. Its reconditioning services are performed in the US, Canada, and Mexico.
Today EBS holds the #1 spot in its sports markets for the Easton, Riddell, Bell, Giro, and Blackburn brands. Indeed, Riddell has been the official helmet of the NFL since 1989 and will remain so at least through 2014; it is also the official helmet and protective gear provider of USA Football and American Youth Football, which together have more than 3 million youth participants. In addition to top-selling headgear, the company is a leading manufacturer of hockey sticks and baseball bats. Easton hockey sticks are in the hands of about half of all NHL players, and it is also the official equipment supplier of the Little League World Series.
After years of acquisitions and consolidations in its industry, EBS has identified two basic strategies that are used by those who supply the industry. While others compete on price through mass merchants and big-name sporting goods chains, EBS has stuck to focusing on making products that tap the latest sports equipment technologies. The firm also relies on its top 10 customers for about 35% of its revenue. Wal-Mart accounts for nearly 14% of net sales.
EBS recorded its highest net sales in 2011 due to a growing Team Sports segment, which sold more baseball bats due to new product releases and rule changes by governing bodies of certain baseball leagues. Net sales increased some 8% in 2011 as compared to 2010 due to positive improvements in the economy and favorable foreign currency exchange rates that year. Its Team Sports net sales rose about 11% in 2011 vs. 2010. The company's Action Sports segment contributed a 5% net sales increase, as well, in 2011 compared to 2010. With a 7% increase in 2011, North America accounted for 85% of the company's net sales. Meanwhile, net income saw an impressive 23% bump upward in 2011, thanks to improvements in net sales offset slightly by the rising costs in sales, marketing, promotion, and sponsorship program spending, as well as increased litigation fees.
Sales and Marketing
A multi-channel marketer, EBS sells its products through specialty retailers, national and regional full-line sporting goods retailers and distributors, mass merchandisers, educational institutions, and athletic leagues.
Fenway Partners, Jim Easton, and The Ontario Teachers Pension Fund own the firm. – less