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WHP, Authentic Brands Vie for Champion: Report

Acquisition by either of those multi-brand operators “makes perfect sense,” says analyst

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Champion shop experience at The Co-Op in Austin, Texas. PHOTOGRAPHY: Courtesy of Hanesbrands

Hanesbrands (Winston-Salem, N.C.), which said earlier this year it is considering selling its Champion brand, has received indications of interest from WHP Global (New York) and Authentic Brands Group (New York), CNBC reports.

Champion, known mainly for its T-shirts, underwear and sweatshirts, has been under pressure from activists who want to see it cut costs and reduce debt. Hanesbrands has received a broad array of interest for Champion, which has about 50 stores and estimated $2 billion in omnichannel sales.

That said, a deal isn’t close to completion, and if Hanesbrands moves forward with a sale, it won’t happen until 2024, sources told the cable news/online news service.

“We are in the initial stages of evaluating strategic options and the right path forward for the global Champion business, and at the same time, remain committed to advancing Champion’s new, disciplined channel segmentation strategy, energizing the brand and leveraging the work already completed to globalize product design and segment and streamline our supply chain,” a Hanesbrands spokesperson told CNBC.

Both WHP and Authentic Brands have a wide range of brands and would be well-suited to add Champion to their rosters. WHP recently acquired Bonobos from Walmart and previously bought Toys R Us and Anne Klein, while Authentic Brands owns brands like Aeropostale, Brooks Brothers and Juicy Couture. It also unveiled plans to partner with mega-retailer Shein to sell a co-branded clothing line with Forever 21.

WHP’s and Authentic Brands’ interest in Champion “makes perfect sense,” said Neil Saunders, a Retail Analyst and Managing Director with GlobalData.

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“This is exactly what these companies do,” Saunders told CNBC. “They buy up different brands that are struggling and they have a pretty good track record of turning them around…”

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