Brooks Sports, a private running-shoe maker in Bothell, is being sold to Atlanta-based sporting-goods company Russell for about $115 million in cash. The deal between Russell and...

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Brooks Sports, a private running-shoe maker in Bothell, is being sold to Atlanta-based sporting-goods company Russell for about $115 million in cash.


The deal between Russell and Whitney & Co., a Stamford, Conn.-based venture-capital firm that bought Brooks in 1998, is expected to close next month. It is subject to approval by Russell’s shareholders.


Brooks executives will continue to run the company as a wholly owned subsidiary of Russell. Chief Executive Jim Weber said there are no plans to lay off any of the company’s 165 employees or to move its headquarters from Bothell.


Russell would help the shoe company expand its apparel business and increase sales of track equipment to high schools and colleges, Weber said.












Russell Corp.


Founded: 1902


Headquarters: Atlanta


Chief executive: John Ward


Products: athletic apparel and equipment


Employees: 13,644


2003 sales: $1.2 billion




“We think we can double our sales by focusing on our core market of performance products,” Weber said.


Russell has been shopping to expand its product line. In the past two years, it has bought Spalding, which makes basketballs, soccer balls and footballs; Bike Athletic, which makes athletic-protective equipment and apparel; and Huffy Sports, which makes basketball backboards.


“This is a good opportunity for Brooks to build on their specialty-footwear business,” said John Horan, publisher of Sporting Goods Intelligence in Glen Mills, Pa.














Brooks Sports


Founded: 1914


Headquarters: Bothell


Chief executive: Jim Weber


Products: running shoes, apparel and accessories


Employees: 165 total; 108 in Bothell and Sumner


2003 sales: $135 million


High-performance running shoes are an $8.3 billion market, driven largely by women interested in fitness and weight loss, Horan said. Last year, Brooks sales totaled $135 million, $43 million of that in shoes at specialty running stores in the U.S.


Whitney & Co. bought Brooks from a Norwegian holding company for $41 million six years ago. It put Brooks up for sale in September. Whitney has refocused Brooks on high-performance running shoes and has stopped selling cleats and cross-training shoes. Apparel and shoe sales are expected to reach about $95 million this year, a 55 percent increase since 1998.


Kristina Shevory: 206-464-2039 or kshevory@seattletimes.com