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WinCraft acquires McArthur Towel in combination of sports licensees

Leading hard goods licensee WinCraft has acquired fellow licensed products company McArthur Towel & Sports. Terms were not released.

McArthur, which traces its roots to 1885, will continue to be headquartered in Baraboo, Wis., and be rechristened as McArthur Towel & Sports — a WinCraft Company. Dick Pope, chief executive of Winona, Minn.-based WinCraft, will be the CEO of the merged companies. John Killen continues as president of WinCraft, and Gregg McArthur as president of McArthur Towel & Sports.

While the deal took less than four months to complete, Pope said he’d been talking to McArthur for more than five years about finding ways to work together. The companies expect to benefit from sharing some marketing, information technology and manufacturing functions. McArthur has about 35 employees, while the merged companies will total slightly more than 500 workers.

McArthur is known for its rally towels, including the Pittsburgh Steelers’ “Terrible Towels,” and others that are often used as gate premiums at sports events. More recently, McArthur convinced all four of the big stick-and-ball leagues to put its championship towels on the field, court or ice at the MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL title games. The same towels were later sold at retail.

While WinCraft’s diverse line of sports licensed products includes clocks, wooden signs and lamps, McArthur adds capabilities in textile products. McArthur also has team-identified golf accessory products, like licensed head covers, towels and ball sets, which will be a new area for WinCraft.

WinCraft sells to about 40 percent more retail accounts than McArthur.

“We’re looking to tap into a larger overall customer base, and we really think we’ll be able to leverage [WinCraft’s] infrastructure,” McArthur said. “We both manufacture and decorate domestically, as well, and we think they will allow us to get deeper into e-commerce.”

It’s not the first time McArthur has changed ownership. In 2002, McArthur was purchased by Action Performance. McArthur later bought the company back. “We just didn’t fit inside of a motorsports company,” McArthur said.

“This is a great strategic fit for WinCraft, as they further solidify their dominance in various hardlines categories and extend their product mix,” said Gene Goldberg, a former NFL consumer products vice president who is now an independent consultant. “Who would have thought over the years that a McArthur towel would become an integral part of a league’s championship locker room assortment?”

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