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Canari Cyclewear's owner buys Shebeest

Published December 6, 2011

VISTA, CA (BRAIN)—Leemarc Industries, parent company of Canari Cyclewear, is the new owner of women’s cycling apparel brand Shebeest, company officials confirmed with Bicycle Retailer Tuesday.

The company did not disclose the purchase price, but the Leemarc's James Johnston did say the deal was in the works for a few months. Veltec, which previously owned Shebeest, had made public its intent to sell the brand in the summer when it announced that it was going out of business (See related story).

“We’re really excited about the acquisition,” Johnston said. “The brand has tremendous loyalty from a very devoted, consistent consumer base out there.”

Buying Shebeest allows the California apparel company to better reach women, a consumer segment that has somewhat eluded it. Sales of women’s apparel haven’t been as strong as men’s or custom apparel for Canari.

Johnston said that Leemarc will invest in the brand to rebuild it in the marketplace. Under Veltec, Shebeest had lost considerable marketshare due to delivery and fulfillment problems.

“Our network of both domestic and international manufacturers and sourcing, our distribution capabilities and our consistency on making sure we fulfill orders, all that has limited Shebeest’s opportunity is a thing of the past,” he said. “One thing it missed was solid operational support. We can give it that.”

Careful relaunch

The company is in the process of creating a business structure for Shebeest. That will involve hiring staff to key positions, including brand management. The goal, Johnston said, is to re-launch Shebeest and a full product line by fall. Though the brand will share some of the back end operational support with Canari, on the product design, development and production side, the brands will be clearly differentiated.

“We don’t anticipate having the same factories making the products. It will be different fabrics, different factories—these are two different lines of products,” Johnston said.

He said the company will explore both domestic and off-shore manufacturing for Shebeest.

“We’re not going to bring anything back immediately,” Johnston said. “In the coming spring months, we’re going to get organized to where we anticipate a full trade introduction, re-emergence and re-launch at Interbike next year and not before. This brand and its product and infrastructure will be carefully and excitedly rebuilt.”

Leemarc Industries, headquartered in Vista, California, is owned by the Robinson family, including brothers Scot and Chris, and their three sisters. It has owned Canari since 2001.

Casual sportswear designer Claudia Ried launched Shebeest in 1997 out of necessity. She couldn’t find the proper fit, style and quality in women’s jerseys and shorts and heard the same frustrations from others she rode with. Shebeest originally designed and manufactured bike, lifestyle, running and yoga apparel for women. At its peak, it sold through several hundred IBDs, REI stores and a couple of online women’s retailers such as Team Estrogen and Title Nine. But when Shebeest was sold to Veltec in 2005, its focus became cycling.

Ried, who stayed on with the brand under Veltec until late 2009, believes Shebeest found a good home and is optimistic about its re-emergence in the marketplace.

“Canari is a solid cycling apparel company. Apparel is a fine-tuned business that requires details and timing is so crucial. It has a long timeline, from start to finish, from design to delivery into a bike shop,” she said. “Canari is a manufacturing company so it’s a great fit.”

—Lynette Carpiet

Topics associated with this article: Mergers & Acquisitions

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