TA Associates invests in sports apparel retailer

The Boston-based private equity firm has made a minority investment in Steve & Barry’s University Sportswear as the retailer strives to ‘revolutionise’ American consumerism.

Boston-based private equity firm TA Associates has made a minority investment in Port Washington, New York-based Steve & Barry’s University Sportswear, a casual apparel retailer that sells private label jeans, down jackets, polo shirts, sweatshirts and other related items, TA Associates said in a statement. The amount of the investment was not disclosed.

“We are eager to partner with Steve &Barry’s management—true innovators in the retail apparel market,” said Jeffrey Barber, a principal at TA Associates who will join Steve & Barry’s board of directors, in the statement. “Steve & Barry’s offers a unique and distinct value proposition to both the mall developer and the retail apparel consumer.”

Steve Shore and Barry Prevor: Steve & Barry’s University Sportswear

Barry Prevor and Steve Shore, who met on a cross-country bus trip at the age of 15, originally began selling overruns and misprints from t-shirt companies together at flea markets in their native Long Island, said Prevor. The duo opened their first store at the University of  Pennsylvania in 1985 and later expanded to more college campuses, Prevor said. The first mall store opened in Michigan in 1998. After that, said Prevor, “The concept took off like wildfire.” Expansion continued as the stores became larger and entered more malls and shopping centers.

“We are continuing to grow like crazy,” Prevor said. The company which currently has stores in 34 states, has looked at possible expansion opportunities in Asia.

This past summer, the company launched a new collection, the Starbury Collection, which includes clothing and footwear created in conjunction with Stephon Marbury, a member of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and a player for the New York Knicks. “The signature item in the line is the Starbury One, a high performance basketball sneaker that Marbury is wearing during NBA games this season and retails for only $14.98,” the statement said.

“Our prices are ridiculously low,” said Prevor. “Our prices are typically 50 to 90 percent less than you might pay for similar good in other stores,” he added, noting that the company’s jeans can sell for approximately $10 and down jackets for $14.98 or less. “We have high quality products in high quality stores.”

“We’re not just selling clothing. We’re revolutionising the way America shops,” said Prevor. “[Retailer] Home Depot changed the way people thought about hardware.”

This investment is not TA Associates’ first in the sports apparel industry.  Among its many investments in the consumer and retail industries was one in AND 1, a Paoli, Pennsylvania-based manufacturer of basketball shoes and apparel.

Founded in 1968, TA Associates, specialises in the retail and consumer sectors. It’s investments include Tempur-Pedic International, the Lexington, Kentucky-based manufacturer of Swedish mattresses and pillows, and Car Toys, a  Bellevue, Washington-based independent retailer of mobile entertainment systems and mobile phones. TA Associates has also invested in United Pet Group, a Cincinnati, Ohio-based manufacturer of pet supplies, PowerBar, a Berkeley, California-based manufacturer of nutritional products, and Jenny Craig, a Carlsbad, California-based weight loss management company.

Most recently, TA Associates invested in the healthcare industry, with a $130 million leveraged recapitalization of Glen Rock, Pennsylvania-based American Access Care, an operator of outpatient dialysis centers that treat patients with end-stage renal disease, which is more commonly known as kidney failure.