MidOcean, Bruckmann to recapitalise accessories line

The two firms have teamed up to help totes>>Isotoner’s line of accessories and to expand the company’s reach.

MidOcean Partners, based in London and New York, and Bruckmann Rosser, Sherrill & Co. (BRS), have agreed to recapitlise totes>>Isotoner Corporation, a designer of “branded functional accessories”, MidOcean said in a statement. At completion of the transaction, MidOcean will be the majority stakeholder in the company.

totes>>Isotoner makes gloves, hats, scarves, umbrellas, slippers and other accessories. Its products are sold in more than 5,000 department stores, mass merchagnes, drug stores and specialty retailers in North America, the UK and France, the statement said. It also has more than 100 outlet stores in malls.

“Our goal is to provide retailers with a single point of contact for their accessories needs, and we will continue to leverage our strong relationships with existing customers to broaden our line and brand extensions, expand into new retail channels and expand international by building our strong position in the UK and France,” Doug Gernet, the president and chief executive officer of totes>>Isotoner, said in the statement. Gernert will remain in his current positions up when the transaction has been completed, and he will become the chairman of the company’s board of directors.

Isotoner was founded as the Aris Glove Company, a manufacturer of leather gloves and knit accessories in 1910, and totes was founded as the SoLo Marx Company, which made rubber rain boots known as “totes” for their portability in 1923, according to information on the totes>>Isotoner website. The two companies merged in 1997 and has offices in New York, Toronto, London, Paris, Hong Kong and Manila in addition to its headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio.

This transaction is one of many that MidOcean has made in recent weeks. The firm next sold its interest in the subscription-based information services provider Thompson Publishing Group to Avista Capital Partners for approximately $200 million in November. It next bought the quick-service Italian restaurant chain Sbarro for approximately $450 million. It also bought 50 percent of Prism Business Media, a business communication and information provider, from another private equity firm, Wasserstein & Co. The firm bought Europackaging, a supplier of packaging products last week.

Eleven-year-old BRS specialises in management buyouts and recapitalisations of middle market companies. It currently has approximately $1.2 billion in assets under management. In conjunction with Los Angeles-based hedge fund Canyon Capital Advisors and Canyon’s associated private equity and debt investment firm Black Canyon Capital, the firm bought the restaurant chain Logan’s Roadhouse from Lebanon, Tennessee-based holding company CBRL Group for approximately $486 million early last month.