TSG consumer partners, a private equity firm and parent company of online ski gear retailer Backcountry, is considering selling the subsidiary. This information stems from undisclosed TSG representatives as announced by Bloomberg this week.
Backcountry is a predominantly online outdoor gear distributor founded in Park City in 1996 by Jim Holland and John Bresee. As of this year, the company does about $1 billion in revenue and has opened six brick-and-mortar stores with three more planned by year-end 2023. Since its inception, the company quickly became one of the few profitable retailers in the space and has competed with industry leader REI.
With comparatively massive revenues within the outdoor gear industry, Backcountry’s valuation could be hundreds of millions of dollars. Despite the appealing price tag, TSG has not confirmed whether they are selling a full stake, partial, or holding onto the company they have owned a majority stake of since 2015. However, the sale is more than just a rumor as TSG has enlisted an investment bank to facilitate the transaction if it does indeed happen.
One event of importance regarding the sale of the company is the trademark scandal that occurred between the years of 2018 and the end of 2019. At the time, the retail giant Backcountry sued dozens of companies regardless of size for including the word “backcountry” in their business — this affected small companies such as Marquette Backcountry skis, Backcountry Denim (renamed to BDCo), and Backcountry eBikes (renamed to Backcou eBikes) for including the popular word Backcountry in their name.
These lawsuits resulted in significant legal expenses and name changes for small companies in the ski industry. Additionally, public backlash from the outdoor community on social media, including customers pledging never to shop there again, resulted in Backcountry dropping a lawsuit on November 6, 2019, and apologizing for the controversy.
Since the backlash, Backcountry has found new success with CEO Melanie Cox, who was hired in June 2020. One of the few female CEOs within the outdoor gear industry, Cox advocates for inclusivity of all kinds, and that the outdoors is for everyone. Cox has relayed her passion via Backcountry’s business ventures post-2020, and with a massive potential sale on the horizon it seems to be working.