LaCrosse Footwear, the U.S.-based owner of the LaCrosse and Danner brands, announced that the company has agreed to be acquired by ABC-Mart for approximately $138 million, or $20 per share in cash. ABC-Mart is a leading Japanese retailer of athletic, business and casual footwear, with about 800 stores under the ABC-Marc and Nuovo banners in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. It is also a distributor in Japan of important brands such as Vans, Sperry Top-Sider and Saucony, and it owns among others an important Japanese brand of brown shoes, Hawkins.

If completed, the acquisition will help expand the presence of LaCrosse and Danner in Asia. In particular, ABC-Mart is interested in exploiting in the “made in USA” label of Danner shoes, many of which are manufactured at LaCrosse's production facility in Portland, Oregon, particularly for military and work uses.

The takeover is conditional on obtaining the majority of the shares of LaCrosse, which is publicly quoted. The purchase price offered to shareholders represents a premium of 82 percent over LaCrosse Footwear's average closing stock price over the 30 days prior to July 5. Under the agreement, ABC-Mart will launch a tender offer to purchase the outstanding shares of LaCrosse in the third calendar quarter of 2012.

As previously reported in Shoe Intelligence, the Portland-based company saw its sales decline last year by more than 14 percent to $121.7 million, while its sales in other countries rose by 12.8 percent to $9.65 million. For the first three months of 2012, the company reported an overall sales increase of 32 percent to $33.3 million for the first three months of its financial year through March 31. Net profit was around $0.6 million, compared with a net loss of $0.7 million in the first quarter of 2011.

Sales of outdoor footwear increased by 2 percent to $9.3 million. The company made $24 million worth of turnover with work shoes, notably with the military and other governmental bodies, with sales up in this sector by 50 percent. The increase in military and closeout sales pushed gross margins down from 41.4 percent to 37.9 percent.