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Bell Helmet Operation Sold

August 19, 2004
Filed under Features

Bell Sports, a leading marketer of helmets and accessories for bicycling and powersports, said it has agreed in principal to be acquired by Fenway Partners, Inc., a private equity firm. Fenway also owns Riddell Sports Group, a provider of football helmets and other branded sporting goods products and services. Bell Sports and Riddell will be combined to form one of the world’s largest protective headgear and related accessories companies.
Bill Fry, president and CEO of Bell Sports, has been appointed president and CEO of the new company, which has not yet been named. The combined company will design and market more than eight million helmets annually under the Bell, Giro (owned by Bell Sports) and Riddell brands.
Bell Sports has no plans to change its headcount, distribution strategy or business locations, the company said in a prepared statement.
Founded in 1954, Bell Sports invented the world’s first truly protective auto racing helmet, full-face motorcycle helmet and bicycle helmet. In the past two years, the company has expanded its research and development efforts by 25 percent and entered new markets, such as motorcycle helmets and fitness accessories. Today, through its Bell, Giro and licensed brands, Bell Sports holds more than 60% of the cycling and action sports helmet market and distributes to more than 10,000 retail storefronts. Headquartered in Irving, Texas, .Bell Sports has operations in Santa Cruz, Calif.; Rantoul, Ill.; York, Penn.; Hong Kong; and Limerick, Ireland.
“This strategic transaction reflects the Fenway value-building model at work,” said Peter Lamm, Chairman and Chief Executive of Fenway Partners. “We are bringing together a world class brand portfolio and two superb management teams that we believe will create a number of exceptional growth opportunities. This combination will lead to accelerated product introductions and expansion new markets and distribution channels.”
Fenway Partners is based in New York and manages more than funds totaling more than $1.4 billion. Riddell manufactures football helmets for the National Football League (NFL), college, high school and youth sports leagues. The company has three divisions: Team Sports Division, which sells game equipment, apparel and reconditioning services; Retail Division, which sells Riddell branded products based on NFL, Major League Baseball and NASCAR trademarks; and Licensing Division, which licenses the Riddell and MacGregor trademarks to other manufacturers.

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