Historic agreement brings together two century-old, storied American brands at the forefront of innovating, shaping and growing diamond sports on the global stage
CHICAGO and LOUISVILLE, Ky. (March 23, 2015) - This is a historic day in the baseball and softball business. Wilson®, the Official Glove of Major League Baseball® (MLB) will now take the field with Louisville Slugger®, the Official Bat of Major League Baseball. Wilson Sporting Goods Co., a division of Amer Sports Corporation, and Louisville Slugger, a division of Hillerich & Bradsby, Co., (H&B), announced today that Wilson has acquired global brand, sales and innovation rights to Louisville Slugger from H&B. The deal is pending H&B shareholder approval.
Under the terms of the agreement, H&B will become Wilson's exclusive manufacturing partner for wood bats. H&B will manufacture all Louisville Slugger-branded MLB, Minor League Baseball, amateur player and souvenir wood bats for Wilson. H&B will continue to manufacture wood bats at the Company's downtown Louisville factory.
H&B will also maintain ownership and continue to operate the highly successful Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory and Gift Shop, a cornerstone of the city's tourism business. H&B's Bionic Gloves division and Powerbilt golf brand are not part of the agreement with Wilson.
"The decision to sell the Louisville Slugger brand was a difficult and serious one to make. 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," said John A. Hillerich IV, Chief Executive Officer of H&B. "We recognized from our first conversation with Wilson that they would be a great partner and steward of the brand our family created and so many have nurtured for 131 years."
"The Wilson brands - Wilson, DeMarini and ATEC - all have great presences in baseball and softball," Hillerich continued. "Wilson has the financial resources, research and development staff and structure, and the experience with big brands to create great synergy and grow the Louisville Slugger business, ensuring that it will remain synonymous with baseball for decades to come."
"We are excited to welcome Louisville Slugger into the Wilson family. 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," said Mike Dowse, President of Wilson Sporting Goods, Co. "We believe Louisville Slugger will enrich our company significantly, enhance our baseball and softball product offering at all levels of the game, and ensure we are delivering only the best performance products to athletes of every age."
Wilson will market and sell Louisville Slugger-branded products through its baseball and softball business unit. The Company currently manufactures and sells high performance gloves, bats, uniforms, apparel, protective gear, accessories, and player development equipment and training tools through its Wilson, DeMarini and ATEC brands. Like its DeMarini brand, Wilson will market and sell Louisville Slugger as a stand-alone brand, similar to how it is sold today.
For the industry and baseball, fastpitch and slowpitch softball players, the Wilson and Louisville Slugger agreement greatly accelerates new research and technology initiatives and product development to support every type and level of baseball and softball player.
Wilson intends to grow the Louisville Slugger brand domestically and abroad utilizing its R&D, sourcing, distribution, and sales and marketing infrastructure, and the deep global resources of its parent company Amer Sports.