Oboz Footwear was founded in Bozeman, Montana, in 2007 and produces hiking, backpacking, travel, and winter footwear. If you shop at REI, you’re probably familiar with Oboz—the retailer was Oboz’s first customer. (It sells exclusively through third-party stores.) Over the past decade, the company has attracted a loyal following, becoming a go-to for hikers who want a high-quality, rugged boot. Kathmandu—the largest outdoor retailer in Australia and New Zealand, with over 164 locations—signed on shortly after REI to carry Oboz.
In a press release on Wednesday, John Connelly, president and founder of Oboz, said: “The bringing together of two leading outdoor brands with shared values makes good sense because it will enable both brands more opportunities to fulfill their potential.”
Kathmandu CEO Xavier Simonet added: “I admire the success of Oboz in North America. They are an authentic outdoor brand with deep roots in Montana and driven by a passionate and successful team.”
How will acquisition by an Australian company affect those roots? According to the statement, Oboz will remain headquartered in Bozeman, and Connelly will continue to lead the company while reporting to Simonet.
Both firms cite strategic reasons for the sale, including wider distribution and greater product diversity. According to the statement, Oboz expects the sale to help boost growth and move further into New Zealand and Australia. The companies are hoping to blend Oboz’s expertise in wholesale with Kathmandu’s expertise in retail and bring better products to consumers in both the U.S. and Down Under.
Matt Powell, senior industry adviser for Sports at NPD Group, says the acquisition should allow Oboz to expand and help Kathmandu diversify its offerings. According to the Australian Financial Review, most of Kathmandu’s earnings come from fall and winter sales. By scooping up Oboz, it should enjoy more balanced year-round sales. There is no indication that either company is struggling; in fact, Kathmandu’s sales are up 8 percent over last year.
Oboz declined to comment on how or whether its lineup will change.