Silver Star President Talks ABG Deal
September 7, 2010
The fastest growing sport in the world just got put on an even faster track to mainstream awareness and one step closer to Madison Ave’s biggest dollars after one of the biggest brand licensing companies have jumped directly into the deep end of the mixed martial arts’ pool.
Authentic Brands Group LLC, a company with a giant global footprint in the worlds of apparel, consumer electronics and action sports has today announced the acquisition of TapouT, TapouT MPS, Silver Star Casting Company, Iron Star and Hitman Fight Gear to it’s portfolio, which also includes the Bob Marley Brands, among dozens of others.
In today’s press release, Authentic Brands Group’s Chairman & CEO Jamie Salter said, “This sport is still in its infancy. We strategically chose these acquisitions as our first big move because we’re getting into the right business at the right time. We’re looking forward to working with the best brands and the best athletes in the world as we transition these two companies into global lifestyle brands with our retail and licensing partners.”
In his first interview since the announcement, Silver Star president and founder Luke Burrett tells me the deal took about nine months to close, and it’s going to be mean big things for MMA fans.
“Authentic Brands Group is a brand development and licensing company. In conjunction with Leonard Green & Partners, our mandate is to acquire, manage and build long-term value in prominent consumer brands,” says Burrett, who will maintain his title for the Silver Star and Iron Star brands.
He said ABG’s overall strategy for the brands is to become a full licensing model.
“The beauty of a full licensing model from the consumer standpoint is that the products get better – at least it will with us because our internal mandate is to work with the best in class licensees,” said Burrett. “Its a simple formula really, the best brands work with the best licensees and best retailers. Plus, we have rigorous rules and regulations for our licensees – we literally approve every single product, ad, you name it. Because of this strategy, each partner gets to do what they do best, and we can focus on what we do best – and that’s marketing and building a brand.
That means TapouT’s Punkass and Skyskrape, along with Luke’s wife, Charis Burrett, will continue to be mainstays on the MMA scene, although today’s press release makes no mention of TapouT chairman Marc Kreinert.
Burrett says the acquisition of his company has always been part of his and wife Charis’ strategy.
“In business, every company reaches a point where they need to make the best decision for the company,” he said. “Charis and I have put many years into Silver Star and still have a lot of passion for the brand! ABG is the right partner and we look forward to a great future. This acquisition will strengthen every facet of Silver Star, not just MMA, so we look to our partnership with ABG to take the company to the next level in all of areas,” he said.
Silver Star sponsors UFC Middleweight champ Anderson Silva and fan favorite Clay Guida, and has had deals in place at one time or another with the likes of Georges St. Pierre and Jon Bones Jones.
The buzz about the ABG acquisitions, which may include more brands in the near future (think Sinister), was loud at last month’s UFC Fan Expo, where guys like Burrett, Skrape and Punkass were noticeably more relaxed than usual, with representatives from ABG doing most of the heavy lifting this time around.
“Since we are now going into a licensing model, I will have more time to work with our athletes and the marketing direction of the brand,” he said.