Mike Terry, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Fanzz sports apparel stores, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Utah Jazz, is acquiring Just Sports, a retail chain of licensed apparel stores based in the Pacific Northwest.
Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
With yearly sales revenues of $18 million to $20 million, Just Sports operates 27 stores in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. Fanzz has 94 sports apparel retail stores in 19 states. Upon completion of the deal, Fanzz will employ more than 900 people, including approximately 225 full-time workers.
Launched in 1987 with three stores, the Fanzz brand has been profitable for 25 years as it has grown to its current level, explained Bob Hyde, president of Fanzz and Utah Jazz chief financial officer. The expansion comes at an opportune time for growth in the retail sector, Hyde said.
Fanzz was originally launched as a marketing vehicle for the Utah Jazz and eventually grew into a profitable venture on its own, Hyde said. With the addition of the new stores — the largest acquisition of its kind to date for Fanzz — projected sales for the combined entity could top $100 million annually, he said.
“(Fanzz) is a good business venture that we are making larger,” Hyde explained. “The (Larry H. Miller Group) philosophy has always been to operate their companies, not just buy and sell companies.”
He said the model has provided good jobs and profitable returns over the years, and the latest acquisition follows the same successful business philosophy.
Started by and named for the late Utah businessman and philanthropist, the Larry H. Miller Group began with one automotive dealership in Murray in May 1979. Since then, the corporation has grown to more than 80 businesses and properties operating in 43 states over six primary areas — automotive, finance, insurance, real estate, sports and retail.
As part of Miller Retail Properties, the Fanzz chain previously has chosen to grow organically, opening a new store from time to time as was fiscally prudent, Hyde said. However, this expansion was seen a prime business opportunity that needed to be taken advantage of sooner rather than later, he said.
“When you can get major market share all in one fell swoop, it was an attractive opportunity,” Hyde said.
The acquisition helps Fanzz compete even more favorably in the retail sports apparel market, he said.
“(Most competitors) carry a little bit of the home team typically, while we carry a broader spectrum,” Hyde said.
Because Fanzz specializes in licensed apparel rather than sports equipment or footwear and apparel, the chain is able to serve its clients in a way other retailers cannot, he said.
Looking ahead, Hyde said the company will continue to look for growth opportunities, but only if they fit its business plan appropriately.
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