Wolverine Worldwide last week acquired Sweaty Betty and Levi Strauss have agreed to buy Beyond Yoga, as both enter the emerging category of women’s activewear.
Sweaty Betty has 65 stores in its native UK and Hong Kong and is expected to have sales of approximately $ 250 million this year. The women’s activewear brand expanded into the US in 2013, but closed all 12 stores during the pandemic. Its products are still sold online and at Nordstrom locations in the United States. Online sales account for around 70 percent of sales.
The $ 410 million purchase is set to help Wolverine, a large shoe supplier with brands such as Merrell, Saucony and Sperry, accelerate its direct sales, especially online, to expand internationally and diversify beyond shoes.
Wolverine told analysts to a Financial support that the global activewear market is growing in the mid to high single digits and that the proportion of premium women is approaching double digit growth.
“The market segment benefits from several well-established macro trends, including consumer focus on health and wellness and casualization,” said Brendan Hoffman, president of Wolverine. “There is also an ongoing trend towards more premium products with higher quality materials, cutting-edge innovation and design, and sustainability. The convergence of all these strong trends contributes to the accelerated growth of Sweaty Betty. “
Levi’s also sees Beyond Yoga benefiting from “the continued consumer acceptance of premiumization, casualization and wellness trends”. The Los Angeles-based, digital-native brand is expected to contribute more than $ 100 million to Levi’s net sales in FY22, helping Levi’s grow its female sales and build its digital business. Levi’s is expected to expand the wholesale distribution of Beyond Yoga.
Sweaty Betty and Beyond Yoga face a variety of competitors, from Lululemon, Athleta owned by Gap, Nike, and other similar niche movers.
In response to Wolverine’s call for investors, Blake Krueger, CEO, said Sweaty Betty differs from market leader Lululemon in that it addresses skiing, swimming, and biking activities rather than primarily focusing on yoga and running. It also emphasizes color and lifestyle offerings. “We believe that it defines the way the trends move, where everyone goes back to work but still wants to stay very comfortable,” said Krüger.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Are the acquisitions of Sweaty Betty by Wolverine Worldwide and Beyond Yoga by Levi Strauss strategically sensible? Do both brands need to refine their positioning in an increasingly crowded activewear space?
“If Levi’s or Wolverine want to be a part of this, the quickest way is to acquire an existing brand, even if those labels don’t have Lululemon’s recognition today.”