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.

Toronto Company buys TapouT, Silver Star and Hitman

September 6, 2010

MMA Weekly reports that TapouT, Silver Star Casting Co. and Hitman Fight Gear have been sold to businessman Jamie Salter.

The MMA clothing brands will be merged under Salter’s Toronto-based Authentic Brands Group, LLC.

From Bloomberg:

Salter’s Toronto-based Authentic Brands Group LLC is betting the three labels — TapouT, Silver Star Casting Co. and Hitman Fight Gear — are ripe for expansion as mixed martial arts tightens its grip on the mainstream. J.C. Penney Co., Kohl’s Corp. and Macy’s Inc. already sell some of the gear, and the new owners and founders are looking to add sales both at home and overseas.

“These are some of the most exciting brands I’ve seen in years,” Salter said in a telephone interview. “The popularity of mixed martial arts and the UFC is soaring around the world. The last time I saw a sport with this much potential was 20 years ago with snowboarding.”

Salter wouldn’t say how much his firm paid for the brands.

Payout Perspective:

This purchase shakes up the MMA merchandise market as this merges TapouT with two of its competitors. According to the Bloomberg article, TapouT President Dan “Punkass” Caldwell and Tim “SkySkrape” Katz will be joined by Silver Star’s Luke Burrett.

The acquisition shows the growth of the MMA market and this marks the further expansion of the brands into mainstream awareness. What will be interesting in the coming days will be the organizational leadership of the new company. What changes will be made to the brands? Will Caldwell and Katz be able to work with Burrett and vice versa? What affect will the merged companies have on the identity of the individual brands?  We will have more on this later this week.

UFC Store Promoting Silver Star Apparel

August 12, 2010

The UFC Store is now sending out e-mail blasts to promote Silver Star walk-out t-shirts from UFC 117.

Payout Perspective:

This is an intriguing move for the UFC. Zuffa has traditionally been loathe to promote any brand that isn’t its own, a partner, or one in which it has a financial stake. Yet, Silver Star does not fit the above criteria. This leads me to believe a partnership may be in the works. We’ve also seen the Silver Star logo appear on the canvas lately, which further suggests some sort of significant partnership – beyond an ad buy – is happening.

Silver Star Signs Patrick Cote

April 13, 2010

Silver Star Casting Company has inked a deal with Canadian UFC middleweight Patrick Cote to design and wear a Signature Silver Star shirt for UFC 113 in Montreal, Quebec on May 8th.

(IRVINE, CA) – Silver Star Casting Company inks a deal for a signature shirt with Patrick “The Predator” Cote for UFC 113 where he will be fighting Alan Belcher on the main card May 8that the Bell Centre in Montreal Canada.

 

Cote, a UFC middleweight, is a former TKO Light Heavyweight Champion, and now owns their middleweight championship. He is a King of the Cage Canadian Light Heavyweight Champion, and a Maximum Fighting Championships World Middleweight Champion who is fighting in the UFC as a Middleweight.

 

Cote’s Silver Star signature shirt features red foil and his “Predator” moniker. With unparalleled KO power and submission skills, the Canadian powerhouse’s predatory nature in the octagon is honored on his shirt with a gunsight on the front, and the Canadian flag on the reverse. The Patrick “The Predator” Cote signature UFC 113 walkout tee is available now at www.silverstarnow.com and retailers nationally and in Canada.

Payout Perspective:

Silver Star continues to sign various high profile fighters in the UFC to sponsorship agreements. You can view the full list of Silver Star sponsored fighters at MMAPayout.com’s Blue Book.

Note: it’s important to view these signings with a degree of context. While Silver Star has made a lot of noise in the last few months, it’s still well behind Tapout in terms of both sponsorship investment and sales revenue.

Silver Star Official Partner of Top Rank

March 11, 2010

Silver Star Casting Co. has announced a new partnership with boxing’s Top Rank to become the promotion’s official t-shirt partner. The deal comes a few months after Silver Star signed Top Rank’s Manny Pacquiao to a sponsorship deal.

(IRVINE, CA) – Silver Star Casting Co. has signed a deal with popular fight promotions company, Top Rank Inc., making the edgy lifestyle apparel-maker the exclusive premium event tee partner for multiple upcoming Top Rank fights, including the Manny Pacquiao vs. Joshua Clottey fight at Cowboy’s Stadium in Dallas, Texas on March 13, 2010.

 

Top Rank Inc., the boxing promotions company behind boxing champion Manny Pacquiao and Silver Star, Manny Pacquiao’s clothing sponsor, have joined forces to provide the best in event apparel at Top Rank events.

 

“Silver Star is very happy to be working with Top Rank’s president, Todd duBoef and his team,” says Silver Star president and CEO, Luke Burrett. “We wanted to get more involved in the boxing arena, and Top Rank is the perfect partner.”

 

Silver Star has produced three top-of-the-line premium shirts for men and women, commemorating the Top Rank Paquiao vs. Clottey event which will be for sale at the event, as well as online at www.silverstarnow.com