S&S Activewear Acquired By Private Equity Firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice

On Wednesday, Bolingbrook, Illinois-based supplier S&S Activewear (PPAI 256121, S12) and private investment firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) announced a new partnership in which CD&R-managed funds will invest alongside current owners and management to acquire S&S. The news was first reported in a PPB Newslink Breaking News alert. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Founded in 1988, S&S has grown under the current management team and owners to approximately $1.5 billion in sales. With approximately four million square feet of warehouse space and more than 2,000 employees, S&S specializes in distributing blank sportswear, corporate apparel and accessories, including t-shirts, fleece and sweatshirts, headwear, athletics and outerwear from more than 100 brands such as adidas, Champion, Columbia, Bella+Canvas, Next Level Apparel and Gildan. The company has made significant investments in national distribution capacity and technology. It has also expanded geographically with three acquisitions since 2010, including the acquisition of the largest wholesale apparel distributor in Canada, Technosport, in 2020. In 2019, it relocated its West Coast operations to a new 800,000-square-foot distribution center in Reno, Nevada, and expanded its Midwest presence with a new 750,000-square-foot sustainability-focused distribution center in Lockport, Illinois.

The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of this year, at which point S&S President Jim Shannon will assume the role of CEO and CD&R Operating Partner John Compton, former president of Pepsico, will become chairman of the board.

“This transaction is an important milestone for S&S and a validation of our continued success; as successful as we have been over the last two decades, we believe our growth story is just beginning,” says Shannon. “CD&R has a deep understanding of our business, from sourcing, freight and distribution center scaling to technology and sales and marketing.”

Ken Giuriceo, CD&R partner, adds, “We are delighted to partner with a talented, entrepreneurial S&S team that shares our core values in a business we know and understand. We look forward to working together to achieve our vision for continued strong growth that creates exciting opportunities for employees, vendors and customers, as well as the local communities where they operate.”

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