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Today's News...5/23/05

MAY 23, 2005 -- Reebok Sells Ralph Lauren Footwear Rights Back To Polo Ralph Lauren

Reebok International Ltd. said Polo Ralph Lauren will purchase Ralph Lauren Footwear Co., Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Reebok and Polo's footwear licensee, for a gross purchase price of $110 million, subject to certain closing adjustments.

It is expected that the sale will result in a gain to Reebok. Reebok plans to discuss the effect of the transaction on its results of operations and on its outlook for the balance of 2005 during its second quarter earnings teleconference, which is scheduled to be held on July 21, 2005.

Upon the closing of the transaction, which is expected to occur by the end of the second quarter of 2005, the agreement under which Ralph Lauren Footwear acted as Polo's footwear licensee will terminate. The transaction is subject to the expiration of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act.

Paul Fireman, Reebok's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, stated: "The completion of this transaction enables us to focus on the continued growth and development of our core businesses."

"We are very excited about the development of a global luxury accessories business and this acquisition moves us closer to that goal. We are assembling the right businesses and people to build our accessories into an important part of our future," said Ralph Lauren, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

"We are pleased to acquire our footwear business as we continue to execute our long-term strategy of taking more direct control of our valuable brands. We believe the development and refinement of our global footwear business is an excellent opportunity for growth at Polo Ralph Lauren," said Roger Farah, President and Chief Operating Officer. "We have been making investments in design and infrastructure to support this strategic initiative. The acquisition of our footwear licensee will be a key element of a successful accessories strategy."

In 1996, Reebok and Polo Ralph Lauren announced that they had entered into an exclusive footwear licensing arrangement that granted Reebok the rights to design, develop, manufacture, market and distribute men's, women's and children's footwear under the Ralph Lauren Footwear label. Reebok International established a separate subsidiary to operate the Ralph Lauren Footwear business.

Credit Suisse First Boston LLC acted as financial advisor to Reebok for this transaction.

Easton Sports Launches New TV Ad Campaign

Easton Sports unveiled a series of television advertisements created to highlight the company’s new product line.

The television ad campaign, which utilizes the company’s “PLAY WITH IT. OR AGAINST IT.” theme concurrently running in print ads, features a sleek and innovative approach to parallel the company’s new products, including the Stealth CNT bats featuring Easton’s revolutionary Carbon Nanotube Technology, according to Mike Zlaket, vice president of baseball/softball for Easton Sports.

“Easton CNT is unlike any composite technology out there, and the high-tech flavor of this ad campaign really brings that to life,” said Zlaket.

The “Range” ads come in both a baseball and fastpitch softball version and feature dozens of batters blasting hits with the Stealth CNT bat on a multi-level, golf-inspired driving range. Multiple special effects are utilized to make the viewer feel as if he or she is right in the middle of the action. 

Easton also created a separate series of ads featuring sponsored MLB athletes Javy Lopez (catcher’s protective) and Luis Castillo (ball glove, footwear) using the company’s latest equipment while voiceovers provide insight into each athlete’s mind. 

The campaign is currently running on CSTV, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN U. 

“The new television campaign is an evolution of our previous work for Easton,” said Kyle Horn, vice president of account and business development at The Ballpark, Easton’s advertising agency of record. “Previous ‘PLAY WITH IT. OR AGAINST IT.’ print campaigns emphasized different aspects of the brand, such as authenticity and product quality.  This new television series pulls each of these threads together along with athlete endorsements and specific technology benefits surrounding CNT.  We’re really happy with how the new campaign turned out and believe it delivers a technological, contemporary feel that matches Easton’s new product line.”

The Walking Co. Merges With Footworks

Big Dog Holdings, based in Santa Barbara, said its subsidiary The Walking Company signed a definitive agreement to purchase the assets of Footworks, a division of the privately held shoe retailer Bianca of Nevada, Inc., for approximately $10 million.

Footworks operates a chain of 8 retail stores selling comfort shoes and accessories. Footworks' operations are focused on high-visibility stores in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Following closing, The Walking Co. will largely convert the stores to "The Walking Company" stores. The purchase is subject to standard contractual contingencies and is expected to close within 45 days.

The Walking Company operates 74 stores in premium malls across the nation, and is a leading independent specialty retailer of high-quality, technically designed comfort shoes and accessories. Brands sold at the chain include ECCO, Mephisto, Dansko, Birkenstock and Merrell.

Commenting on the announcement, Andrew Feshbach, Chief Executive Officer of Big Dogs, said: "This is part of our plan to expand the operations of The Walking Company. The acquisition of Footworks is a strong start to that through the acquisition of these high-profile locations."

Spalding Takes Over NBA.com

At the center of Spalding's first-ever i-Media campaign is an NBA.com homepage takeover unit which began Friday, May 20.

The unit showcases Spalding's NBA Jersey Balls and features NBA players LeBron James, Shaquille O'Neal, Steve Nash, and Carmelo Anthony. The online campaign includes a suite of interactive banners designed to drive consumers to the NBA.com store to purchase Spalding?s latest products. An estimated two million daily visitors are expected to log on to NBA.com during The Playoffs. Click on the following link to go to NBA.com: www.nba.com

Spalding is also capitalizing on the excitement and exposure surrounding the NBA Playoffs with a campaign on NBA TV. The campaign kicks off on May 19 with opening and closing billboards on both the "Play of the Game" features and the "Great Moments" vignettes that will run throughout the NBA Playoffs and Finals. The billboard creative will highlight Spalding's Infusion 3, Jersey Balls, and NBA team portable backboard units. Additional programming includes :05 billboards on ABC/ESPN's coverage of the NBA Finals as well as ABC's Inside Stuff and ESPN's NBA Matchup.

Clarins to distribute Everlast fragrances in U.S.

Everlast Worldwide Inc. announced that France-based PAC Paris, the company's worldwide fragrance licensee, has selected New York City- based Clarins Fragrance Group to serve as the U.S. distributor for all Everlast fragrances and grooming products beginning January 1, 2006 with a new launch slated for Spring 2006.

Clarins Group USA is a subsidiary of the Paris based GROUPE CLARINS. Clarins is international in scope and markets products in all cosmetics segments. In addition to the skin care and make-up lines under the Clarins brand, the company's fragrance brands include Thierry Mugler, Azzaro and Stella Cadente.

PAC Paris, which is in the process of identifying additional companies to distribute Everlast products throughout the world, was founded by highly-regarded fragrance marketers, Etienne de Swardt and Laurent Jugeau, who possess a combined 30 years of high level experience with several of the largest fragrance houses in Paris. The Everlast fragrance and grooming line was developed by PAC Paris in conjunction with Givaudan, Paris and Clarins Fragrance Group.

George Q Horowitz, chairman and CEO of Everlast Worldwide Inc., said, "Clarins is truly a great company with excellent marketing and distribution strengths. In addition to building a solid sales base for the Everlast line of men's fragrances and grooming products, Clarins will further heighten Everlast's image by introducing the brand into some of the best retailers throughout the U.S. We will continue to seek additional opportunities for licensing the Everlast brand into appropriate consumer categories which represent large and untapped markets for us."

Added Clarins Fragrance Group president Ben Gillikin, "Everlast is a perfect brand for a fragrance and grooming line. The brand's image conveys a sense of strength and individuality and adds a completely new and exciting dimension to our existing portfolio of fragrances. With its tremendous heritage and consumer appeal, the Everlast line will be very well received in the United States. We intend to support its introduction with aggressive marketing and merchandising programs and look forward to working with the management of Everlast Worldwide."

Sof Sole Launches Comfort Lite and Comfort Cushion Socks

North Carolina based footcare company Sof Sole introduced two new styles of comfort socks to its line of complete fit solutions for active people of all levels. The new Comfort Lite and Comfort Cushion socks combine innovative technology with Sof Sole's established footcare industry expertise to create the ultimate comfort sock for men and women.

The new socks feature Thinvent construction for maximum breathability and dryness. A cushioned sole and high needle count provide a better fit, additional comfort and protection against shock and impact. The Comfort Lite and Comfort Cushion socks feature enhanced ankle bands, which allow the socks to curve along the natural shape of the ankle to reduce slippage and bunching. The reinforced heel and toe areas are durable enough to meet the rigorous demands of an active lifestyle.

Comfort Lite socks (MSRP: $7.99) are designed specifically for women and are available in four color/style two-pair packs (White/Citrus, White/Carolina Blue, White/Bayou Red, White/Pink). Sof Sole Comfort Cushion socks (MSR: $5.99) are designed for men and come in six color. (White/Navy, Navy/Carolina Blue, White/Royal, Navy/Grey, White/Black, Black/Red) Both Comfort socks are available in multiple sizes.

"With an increased number of adults taking a proactive approach to their footcare needs, more and more are realizing the benefits of comfortable socks," stated Devin Bigoness, marketing manager for Sof Sole. "Comfort Cushion and Comfort Lite socks are ideal for men and women who put a premium on comfort for their feet."

To enhance the effects of the Comfort Lite or Comfort Cushion line of socks even further, consumers can combine them with Sof Sole's line of Performance or Comfort footbeds. The unique combination, which Sof Sole calls FitSys™ (Short for Fit System) is the first sock-footbed system engineered to work together to provide the ultimate in comfort and performance.

Sof Sole footbeds and socks are utilized by over 400 performance athletes including Brady. The cushioning, shock absorption and moisture management help recreational runners to elite athletes run their best and reach their goal. Sof Sole can help runners and walkers of all levels perform their best, whether it is winning a national championship, achieving a personal best or simply making fit happen.

Comfort Lite and Comfort Cushion socks are available at Finish Line and other Sof Sole retailers. For a list of the retailer nearest you, please visit www.sofsole.com or www.finishline.com

Nautica To Sponsor 2005 AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour

Nautica International, Inc., a subsidiary of the VF Corporation, announced it has again partnered with the AVP (Association of Volleyball Professionals) as the Official Apparel Sponsor of the 2005 Pro Beach Volleyball Tour.

In addition to the resigning of its 2004 male and female leading AVP athletes to multi-year agreements, Nautica has made a substantial commitment to increase its on and off-court presence with the addition of two new players to its roster to wear and promote the brand. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Nautica sponsored athletes include: 2004 Olympic Gold Medallist Misty May, 2004 Olympic Bronze Medallist Elaine Youngs, 2000 Olympic Gold Medallist Eric Fonoimoana and 2004 Olympian Qualifier Dax Holdren. New to the Nautica roster are 2004 MVP and Best Offensive Player Mike Lambert and 2004 Rookie of the Year George Roumain.

As Official Apparel Sponsor, Nautica will outfit referees, announcers, staff and volunteers in specially designed sportswear for the AVP Tour. Nautica will also support the AVP in tournaments nationwide with on-site signage and on-site activities celebrating its new "Navigate life(TM)" global marketing platform. All events are broadcast on NBC Sports, Fox Sports Net and Outdoor Life Network and will showcase Nautica's new commercial created exclusively for the AVP series. The 30 second spot, called "Navigate Your Dreams", features Nautica's impressive roster of volleyball professionals.

"As we begin our third year partnering with the AVP, we're confident that our commitment to the sport of beach volleyball and support of its world-class athletes will continue to be an important association for our brand," said Denise V. Seegal, President and CEO of Nautica Enterprises, Inc. "Beach volleyball is an authentic lifestyle sport for Nautica, it's athletic, water related and provides an emotional connection to the active, outdoor way of life that resonates with our consumers."

New Tent Warning Labels Approved by ASTM International

ASTM Committee F08 on Sports Equipment and Facilities has developed a new standard that establishes requirements for the information that is permanently affixed to backpacking and mountaineering tents and bivy sacks.

The requirements included in standard F 2441, Practice for Labeling of Backpacking and Mountaineering Tents and Bivy Sacks, significantly expand on the information now required for tent labels.

"Currently a Canvas Products Association International warning label required in seven states is the only warning notice required in tents. That label says 'Warning: Keep all flame and heat sources away from this tent fabric,'" says Steve Nagode, engineer, research and development, Recreational Equipment Inc. "As a group we felt the consumer would benefit from more information, such as the importance of staking out your tent, and what to look for in a good campsite location. We also wanted this information presented in the same format no matter who manufactured the tent."

More detailed information on being aware of the effects of wind, flooding and other potential hazards associated with camping will be included in a label sewn into tents.


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Quick links: One-click access to topics in this article.

Sporting goods industry
Specialty retailers

Reebok International Inc.
Polo Ralph Lauren Inc.
Easton Sports Inc.
Clarins SA
Sof Sole

Comfort Cushion Socks
footwear licensee
Beach volleyball
grooming line
comfort shoes

Paul Fireman
Roger Farah
Mike Zlaket
Javy Lopez

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