Fanatics, the nation's leading licensed sports merchandiser, is buying Winona-based WinCraft, a move that expands its footprint in non-clothing fan gear.
WinCraft, which makes sports-team products like pennants, clocks and umbrellas, will continue operating in Winona under the new ownership. The company's current president, John Killen, will head Fanatics hardgoods division as senior vice president.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Over the past decade, Fanatics grew from a small Florida-based e-commerce company into the leading seller of pro and collegiate sports clothing. The company's aggressive growth was fueled by a $1 billion investment from Japan's SoftBank. It purchased Majestic, a global sports apparel firm in 2017, and in September bought Top of the World, or TOW, a leading collegiate sport hat company. I
The WinCraft acquisition opens significant new manufacturing and product capabilities, including jewelry, can coolers, trash cans and football helmet-shaped snack bowls.
Fanatics is trying to stay ahead of online retail behemoths like Amazon Inc., by designing, manufacturing, selling and distributing its own products. The company has licensing agreements with all of the nation's professional leagues, including the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL, and mobilizes its distribution system to deliver memorabilia for moments of sports passion, such as playoff runs, championships or record-setting sports figures.
WinCraft started 61 years ago as a small business selling pom-poms, bumper stickers and buttons, but has grown to become a leading brand in the licensed sports industry with $100 million in annual sales. As a part of the deal, WinCraft and Fanatics are working to gain consent for the transfer of more than 700 active licensing deals with colleges, professional leagues, championship events, the Olympics, Disney and others.
WinCraft chairman Dick Pope led the company for the last 42 years, but is retiring and decided to sell the company. Fanatics will establish a "hardgoods center of excellence" in Winona and reiterated its commitment to the community, the company said in a statement.
WinCraft's Iowa and Florida offices will also be added to Fanatics' corporate map.
Kristen Leigh Painter • 612-673-4767