LONDON, United Kingdom — London-born athleisure retailer Sweaty Betty has been sold in a deal worth $410 million.
The buyer, Wolverine World Wide — which operates one of the world’s largest portfolios of footwear and lifestyle brands — plans to leverage Sweaty Betty’s expertise and focus on female consumers to fuel growth and enhance its fast-growing e-commerce business.
The deal comes more than two decades after Tamara and Simon Hill-Norton founded the brand in Notting Hill. Since then the company has grown to become a $175 million empire with 50 stores in the UK, a partnership with Nordstrom in the US and more recently locations in China, Singapore and Hong Kong.
Speaking about the decision, Tamara and Simon Hill-Norton commented: “We founded Sweaty Betty in 1998 with the purpose to empower women through fitness, and today we are delighted to have found the right partner in Wolverine Worldwide, a company that is perfectly positioned to support the acceleration of our mission.”
They added: “We’re so proud to have built an incredible community of active women who inspire us daily and are excited to see this powerful and supportive community grow worldwide.”
According to both parties, Sweaty Betty’s Chief Executive Officer, Julia Straus, will continue to lead the brand and will report to Brendan Hoffman, President of Wolverine Worldwide, who explained:
“Sweaty Betty aligns perfectly with our strategic growth plan for Wolverine Worldwide, as we focus on growing digital channels, expanding our international footprint, and building our brand portfolio beyond footwear.”
She continued: “Sweaty Betty’s expertise and focus on apparel, female consumers, and best-in-class digital execution has proven to be a winning combination. We are excited to support the brand’s continued growth while learning from its digital-first mindset and leveraging that strength across our portfolio.”
Having seen its revenue jump 60 percent in 2020 to nearly $175 million – a figure that’s expected to rise to $250 million this year, according to Wolverine – Sweaty Betty is perfectly primed for continued success. However, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing.
In 2020, the company was forced to permanently close all of its standalone stores in the US due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic.
“We are sad to confirm that the pandemic has caused us to close our 12 US stores,” the website says. “We’ve loved being part of the community and we look forward to seeing you soon in Nordstrom and online at sweatybetty.com,” read a company statement at the time.
Despite that setback, Sweaty Betty says it has since taken the opportunity to bolster its digital presence.
It now generates more than 80 percent of its revenue through direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales, hitting $500 million in direct online sales in 2020, more than double its sales in 2019.
And the company is confident that it will be able to maintain its upward momentum.
“We’re not seeing a slowdown at all,” Sweaty Betty chief executive Julia Straus told Business of Fashion. “As we come out of [the pandemic], these are habits and lifestyles that you’re seeing continue with our customer.”
It’s undeniable that Sweaty Betty has seen incredible growth over the past few years. Now, backed with Wolverine’s knowledge and expertise in building performance brands, robust international distribution, and supply chain expertise it will provide a strong platform for the company to further expand and accelerate growth globally.