IC Group, the Danish owner of Peak Performance, is evaluating a potential sale of part or all of the Swedish sports apparel brand, after structural improvements in its business and results in the last years.
IC Group says it has engaged Rothschild, the investment bank, as it started a strategic review process for the Peak Performance. The company said one of the purposes was to assess whether the IC Group is the most judicious owner for Peak Performance, at a time when it should ramp up its international business.
Peter Thorsen, chairman of IC Group's board, said in a statement that Peak Performance has developed strongly in the last two years and the next step is to accelerate its international strategy. He suggested that another owner might be better able to lead the upcoming development phase than IC Group, which encouraged the board to explore this option thoroughly.
Under the leadership of Nicolas Warchalowski, former chief executive of Haglöfs, who took up the same function at Peak Performance in September 2014, the Swedish company has cleaned up its wholesale business around Europe, cut and rearranged its product assortment and launched an upgraded retail concept.
Specializing in apparel for outdoor, skiing and sports fashion, Peak Performance had sales of 1,035 million Danish kroner (€139.0m-$164.6m) for the financial year until the end of June, which was an increase of 10.6 percent in reported terms and 11.6 percent in constant currencies. Its operating margin (Ebit) amounted to 9.8 percent, compared with 10.0 percent the previous year and 11.2 percent for the year until the end of June 2015.
The slight contraction for the last fiscal year came with a drop in the gross margin, due to higher discounts and inventory write-downs, but the margins on sold products were higher. The cost ratio was also improved in spite of increased costs for new stores and more e-commerce activity.
About 66 percent of Peak Performance's sales in the last fiscal year came from the Nordic countries, another 31 percent from the rest of Europe and just 3 percent from the rest of the world. The split appears to back up the board's indication of strong potential for Peak Performance's international development.
The strategic review around Peak Performance comes a few months after Alexander Martensen-Larsen became chief executive of the IC Group, at the start of June. He replaced Mads Ryder, who resigned in February amid moves to reorganize the Danish company. They primarily reduced the function of the head office, after IC Group shed several fashion brands to focus on three premium brands, from Peak Performance to Tiger of Sweden and By Malene Birger.
Within the latest structure, the chief executives of each of the three premium brands were given full responsibility for the financial performance and development of their respective business units. The head office provides a joint platform for the brands in terms of logistics and IT, among other central services.
The subsequent decision by IC Group to launch a strategy review about the ownership of Peak Performance prompted speculation that IC Group is dismantling its activities and perhaps heading toward a dissolution. But this was denied by the Danish group, which describes itself as a portfolio company.
Established in Åre in 1986, Peak Performance was acquired twelve years later by Carli Gry International, which went on to merge with the InWear Group in 2001. The tie-up formed IC Companys, which was renamed IC Group in 2014.
IC Group said the announcement would not have any impact on the guidance issued at the end of August for the fiscal year running to the end of June 2018.