Two of the world’s most iconic baseball brands have made a $70 million dollar deal.
Wilson Sporting Goods is set to buy Louisville Slugger. The deal will include the brand, sales and innovation rights to the 131-year old company. Under the new deal, Louisville’s parent company, Hillerich & Bradsby, will continue to manufacture the bats at its Louisville factory.
“Growing our baseball and softball business globally is a key business strategy, and H&B has created one of the most recognizable baseball brands in the world,” Mike Dowse, president of Wilson, said.
Hillerich & Bradsby will remain owner of the Louisville Slugger Museum and gift shop, but the company’s Powerbilt and Bionic Glove brands are not part of the Wilson deal.
“The decision to sell the Louisville Slugger brand was a difficult and serious one to make,” H&B Chief Executive John A. Hillerich IV said in a statement. “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.”
Louisville Slugger generated approximately $75 million in revenue last year but continues to struggle to keep up with larger competitors. The company also suffered a setback in 2013 when they had to recall their entire line of OneX aluminum softball bats after a handle defect was discovered.
Hillerich & Bradsby report that 60 percent of all MLB players use their Louisville Slugger bats, which is the official bat of Major League Baseball. Wilson is the official glove brand. They are also the official provider of basketballs for the NCAA championships.